Since the release of her last record, Kelly Clarkson‘s personal life has done a complete 180º turn around with the marriage to her manager’s son, Brandon Blackstock, the birth of her first daughter River Rose and a continued battle of public scrutiny about her weight. Though she has never been one to flaunt her personal life through the tabloids and often ignores stories of her weight, Clarkson instead shifts focus on her music and her voice. The voice that won her the title of America’s first Idol in 2002, a bundle of Grammy Awards and countless radio hits.
On Tuesday, the singer will deliver her seventh studio album Piece By Piece, which has been noted as the singer’s most personal to date. The record includes tracks penned by top songwriters such as Sia and Kara DioGuardi, an appearance by John Legend on the Tokkio Hotel cover “Run Run Run” and the return of producer/writer Greg Kurstin, the man behind Clarkson’s massive single “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).” With power house collaborators contributing to her seventh effort – the first since her Christmas album Wrapped In Red – Piece By Piece has the ingredients for another successful effort from “Miss Independent.”
Notably missing on Piece By Piece are the anthemic breakup songs that the singer is so famously known for delivering. Perhaps the absence of Max Martin is responsible, or maybe it’s just a woman-in-love’s decision to move beyond the formula that made her pop music royalty. Instead, creating a sound more fitting for a new mom. Still present on the album though, is Kelly’s unmatched vocal ability and raw delivery of lyrics. On the album’s title track, a heart-wrenching retelling of a woman abandoned by her father, Clarkson delivers the lines so emotionally that it’s hard not to draw comparisons to her Breakaway hit “Because Of You.” A song with similar content.
Standout tracks on the album include the Sia-penned “Invincible” and “Let Your Tears Fall,” “I Had A Dream” and the appropriately titled “Nostalgic,” which reminds listeners that Clarkson delivered 80’s inspired pop hooks long before Taylor Swift dropped 1989. The sassy bonus track “Second Wind” highlights the angsty American Idol winner that publicly turned her back on the series and perhaps offers some insight into why. “Why do we build up all these Idols just to watch them fall/ You’re wearing the crown, toast of the town and then no one takes your call,” she sings before the chorus reminds us why she reigns supreme among the group of reality show winners. And on the standard edition’s final track “Good Goes The Bye”, Clarkson gives me life with the album’s most compelling and memorable moment.