Album Reviews Music

Album Review // Kelly Clarkson “Piece By Piece”

It’s been a while since I reviewed an album (if you haven’t read it, it’s here), I reckon this is the perfect time to do a new one considering my blog has recently been given a fresh facelift and at hand, we have an album from my all time favourite artist.

piecebypieceWords & Picture: Oliver @oliverinstead

Piece By Piece is Kelly Clarkson‘s 7th studio album and her first in almost four years! Since releasing Stronger in 2011, she has got married, released a Christmas album and given birth to a gorgeous baby girl, River Rose. It was released earlier this month but my copy took a while to deliver as I pre-ordered the limited edition box set from the official website so it arrived at my doorstep all the way from the US. 😉

 

Before playing the CD, I read through the leaflet and straightaway the lack of writing credits from the American Idol champ herself caught my attention. In fact, ever since the fall out with her label back in the My December era, she’s been producing noticeably less and less of her own materials… Not until this album did I realise a serious shortcoming in Clarkson’s repertoire. This is reflected in her music sounding kind of samey-samey this time around. It’s especially apparent now that she’s decided to ditch her signature Rock spunk for a full-on mainstream Pop sound, where she seems to have lost her edge and like a fish out of water… However, those moments when she experiments with unexpected collaborators, like in the stately Matthew Koma-penned track definitely still carry enough excitement value to keep me as a fan.

Someone is one of my favourite tracks on the album – I suspect it might not be everyone’s cup of tea as it’s not particularly exhilarating in any sense, and really it’s the somberness that really draws me in more than anything. As far as power ballads are concerned, this is the most contemporary I’ve heard from KC since the infamous Already Gone. Similarly controversial is the John Legend duet Run Run Run, initially claimed by German Rock band Tokio Hotel to be their own work until Clarkson pointed out that the band was in fact NOT credited in the demo she received from the actual writers… sehr awkward.

The song itself is beautiful, definitely trounces the “original”… It starts off slow and melow with some of the most impressive harmony I’ve ever heard, then builds up to a massively dramatic and flawlessly executed finale of stormy drum and guitar line matched by Clarkson and Legend’s stunning high notes and vibratos. This would serve as a more than rightful successor to the Jason Aldean-assisted Don’t You Wanna Stay.

 

 

As an act to reinvent oneself, this era Clarkson dips her toe into EDM, producing a riot of a track like War Paint that offers great danceable eletro beats with uncomprising lyrics that sing about embracing your most raw and true self – a familiar territory for the Texan powerhouse.

Whereas I feel the outcome with Take You High has left loads to be desired. To say I’m not a fan of the production is an understatement. 10/10 for her efforts to try different things but littering the inspired Gospel ting with out-of-place, confused synth breakdown is a embarrassingly desperate attempt.

 

Though Piece By Piece may not be Clarkson’s most successfully varietous project, one department wherein it delivers is the emotion, in spades. The title track for example, is a follow-up to her 2005 hit Because of You. It yet again calls out the singer’s irresponsible father for abandoning her at the innocent age of six but come the chorus, the story takes a positive turn as with every word she belts, we feel the unconditional, healing love of her hubby. Talk about silver linings!!

Another powerful track filled with passion and intensity is Invincible, co-written by Sia. Although it wouldn’t have been my choice of a second single, this empowering anthem that exclaims /I was so afraid, I felt so unsure/Now I am invincible/ challenges the music industry and perfectly embodies the ‘survivor’ exterior Clarkson is known for.

In contrast, Tightrope and Good Goes the Bye both present a sadder note graced with utmost purity and vulnerability of Clarkson’s vocals. The former is one of my personal highlights, the gentle piano and strings make a nice change from the big productions we hear on most of this album,

whilst the latter draws the album to a close with a steady beat and a lot of courage and wisdom in getting over a breakup.

Finally, I couldn’t wrap up this review without mentioning this deluxe bonus track, In the Blue. The one track that I wish had been included in the standard album… It’s such a catchy ballad with seriously spot on vocals and addictive beats on offer!!

I have no idea how they let this one slip.

 

Vocally, this is without a doubt Clarkson’s best performance. The progress is obvious. There are little to no imperfections in her voice to be heard – she has truly mastered her craft. Despite that, I’m not holding out for another Grammy solely because I don’t believe the materials are deserving enough… Piece By Piece is not the best representation of her well-rounded talent. In parts, the album almost sounds like a collection of leftovers from her past albums… By all means, keep an open mind when listening to the album. Throw away any impressions you’ve ever gathered of the chart-topper should help understanding the direction she’s exploring in the album.

 

Love, Oliver

*Piece By Piece is out now! Buy it here!

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Jana
    March 21, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    I love Kelly Clarkson. It usually takes me couple of times to listen to the whole album before I start liking it.

    Jana
    Life of Jana

  • Reply
    Emily Ware
    March 22, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I used to be a huge fan of Kelly Clarkson but I think after her last album she slipped, I hope this new album helps her redeem herself!

  • Reply
    vicky
    March 28, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    I love kelly clarkson, I don’t have any of her albums but will be going out to buy this one

    • Reply
      Oliver
      March 28, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      Please do! It’s a great album and she’s such a brilliant singer who deserves more support! :)

      Oliver x

  • Reply
    Jessica
    April 6, 2015 at 7:52 am

    I haven’t listened to Kelly Clarkson for awhile, but I’m tempted to buy this album.
    xx

    • Reply
      Oliver
      April 6, 2015 at 10:57 am

      It’s a solid album, not the most cohesive if you ask me but all tracks are great individually. :)

      Oliver x

  • Reply
    Corey Groves
    July 7, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    I just wanted to say that I love Kelly Clarkson’s music with all my heart and I want to spend the rest of my life listening to it because her music has been the best thing that has ever happened to me ever since she became the first winner on the first season of the T. V. show, “American Idol” back in 2002 and that was the year that I graduated from High School. I would be lost if she ever decides to stop making music because making music is what she lives for. Kelly is one of the most popular and one of the most successful music artists in the music industry and of this generation who has a lot fans all over the world who really enjoys listening to her music and going to her concerts, and I’m also one of them who was born and raised over here in the United States of America. I have all of her previous albums and I bought the deluxe edition of her, “Piece By Piece” album at Target when it was released on March 3, 2015. I like Kelly and John Legend’s version of the song, “Run Run Run” a lot better than Tokio Hotel’s version because they put a lot of emotions into it when they were singing it as a duet. I was so disappointed when I found out that the album only sold 83,000 copies on the first week that it was released and that it wasn’t certified as Platinum just like all of her previous albums were because in my personal opinion, I think that it is one of the best Pop albums of 2015. The album should’ve been certified as Platinum and it should’ve sold 1,00,000 copies on the first week that it was released over here in the United States of America, just like all of her previous albums were. She has a lot of creativity when it comes to her own music because she takes it into a different level by adding a perfect mixture of Country, Dance, Pop, R & B, Rock, and Soul to it and not a lot of music artists can really do that when it comes to their own music. I have a lot of respect for her as a music artist because she doesn’t show her nude body and she doesn’t let fame go to her head. I also have a lot of respect for her as a human being because she is so down to earth when it comes to talking to her fans and she doesn’t do drugs. I wish that I was married to her because she in my personal opinion, I also think that she looks a lot more prettier than my wife, Ashley does and she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body like my wife does. I regret marrying my wife, Ashley at the age of 21 because it was the biggest mistake that I have ever made in my life. If Kelly wasn’t married to Brandon Blackstock and if she didn’t have a child with him, I would divorce my wife in a heartbeat and marry her. Her name would be, Kelly Brianne Clarkson-Groves instead of, Kelly Brianne Clarkson-Blackstock. I will always guard and protect her heart from all of those haters out there because she is a perfect role model to all of her fans out there. Her music inspires me so much and I will always be one of her most biggest fans no matter what. End of story.

    • Reply
      Oliver
      July 9, 2015 at 9:26 pm

      Good to see someone so passionate about Kelly and her music! 😀

      Oliver x

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