After a few days of having the luxury of sinking my head into Kelly Clarkson's newest album, it's finally time to talk about it! (That was a goddamn short introduction)
The seventh studio album by the American Idol winner (season 1 by the way for those who don't know) is finally here, titled Piece by Piece which released a few weeks ago but only got a hold of it the past few days. While I'm not exactly the biggest Clarkson fan out there, I would say I've listened to some of her previous hits which include probably one of my favourite track Breakaway, the 'a little too generic' Stronger, and possible one of her better tracks of late in Catch My Breath. Though the only thing that comes to satisfaction in her discography probably has to be her sophomore record, which does contain some of her stronger hits and also some of the tracks which people normally associate her with. Does this album deliver for the most part? Well, let's see.
First of all, this album is basically a 'you get what you pay for' album in the sense that it's every corner a Clarkson fold wherein there is her unmissable vocals, very stringent production and simply niche, or over-used framing for lyrics that are just simply cliche. Now don't get me wrong, while I think it's not a very bad album, there's nothing really special nor of weight for me to remember it for what it is, and that's quite a big problem.
Upfront, the tracks are serviceable at best. Even a John Legend feature doesn't 'spice' things up, and most tracks on this album are quite literally dull and boring. The best track is not even in the original album itself, and rather on the deluxe edition titled Bad Reputation that has the dance vibe that is heard throughout the album but manages to pull off a smooth punch with its drums and guitars (even the horns/trumpets) that also has a pacey drive to it.
The album itself is technically decent, and for the most part is what is actually lacking. Miss Clarkson's vocals are at the same time okay, but could've been better. The first three tracks easily set the tone for the rest of the album in a rather sentimental, calm mood that just jaunts on to every other track. And we're talking 13 tracks with almost the same sense of sentimental retreat to it. Some of it are pace-driven (sort of) like the more upbeat ones such as Invincible, Take You High, Let Your Tears Fall, War Paint and Dance With Me.
I know it feels as if this album doesn't live up to its potential, but it is what it is. When it comes to the lyrics, the album just falls apart like a train wreck. I'm sorry, but lyrically this album is just not good enough - at all. 'Don't be sad that it's over - just be happy it happened to us' (Nostalgic), 'If you wanna' lead be a leader - if you wanna' dream be a dreamer' (I Had A Dream) are just examples, but the string of it certainly doesn't stop there. I know it sounds as if I'm grinding on about these things but I just can't skewer them out of this review. It's literally there for everyone to hear.
One (and only) thing that is probably the best part on this entire album is Clarkson's vocals. Although she doesn't reach the highs of her previous records, on tracks like Let Your Tears Fall, Good Goes The Bye and Invincible, all of which share strength, vocal control and finesse that just adds to the fine feature to this album, in which otherwise does nothing to compliment her at all. A dubstep on Take You High? That just takes me out of the track almost instantly, whereas on Piece by Piece, the drums and pianos are well coordinated and doesn't block the listening pleasure of the album too much. Even on Good Goes The Bye where the synths do share too much of the stage with Clarkson but when it reaches the chorus, they drop to the background and lets the voice do all the work (which should have been from the start). In fact, that might possibly be my favourite track of the entire album and I'm not even kidding, and add to that probably War Paint and Invincible with the latter I see becoming a fantastic single.
Favourite Tracks: Good Goes The Bye, War Paint, Invincible
Least Favourite Tracks: Take You High, Nostalgic, I Had a Dream
If you're looking for a decent follow up to her 2011 release then I'm sorry, this is not it. With bland production, at times great vocals coupled with lyrics that are just blatantly cliche, I would probably only recommend this album to people who think that they have a grip on sentimental music. Would I recommend it to her fan-base? Hell no, considering most of them have already heard the album. But still, it's not as bad as it seems that I may have put and there are certainly worse albums out there for sure. For now, I'd say stick to the three tracks I've tacked for favourite and you're probably good to go.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.