Kelly Clarkson – Thankful

December 1, 2011 at 11:19 am | Posted in Kelly Clarkson | Leave a comment
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  1. The Trouble With Love Is
  2. Miss Independent
  3. Low
  4. Some Kind Of Miracle
  5. What’s Up Lonely
  6. Just Missed The Train
  7. Beautiful Disaster
  8. You Thought Wrong (feat. Tamyra Gray)
  9. Thankful
  10. Anytime
  11. A Moment Like This (New Mix)
  12. Before Your Love (New Mix)
  13. (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman

American Idol is responsible for bringing a few amazing artists out into the music landscape and its first winner, Kelly Clarkson, is by far the best singer they’ve discovered. I was a casual fan of this pop idol and only started to love her when she released her second album. I’ve been a fan since then but it wasn’t until this year that I finally listened to her debut album, Thankful. I was familiar with a few songs but I was surprised by how soulful the album turned out to be. I shouldn’t have been surprised though, seeing as her Idol performances were quite soulful themselves. Honestly, I expected it to be lackluster because I never hear many fans talking about this album but it’s actually quite a strong pop record.

The Trouble With Love Is opens the album with a blues and soul sound. Joined by a calm, classic piano and drum melody, Kelly lets her vocals do the work and shows exactly why she won American Idol. I enjoy the soothing composition and the strength that comes with the vocals. The song’s structure is quite interesting as the verses deal with the positive aspects of love, “love can be a many splendored thing/can’t deny the joy it brings/a dozen roses, diamond rings,” while the chorus focuses on the negatives that come with love, “the trouble with love is/it can tear you up inside/make your heart believe a lie/it’s stronger than your pride.” The song maintains the same tempo and melody but it does throw in a choir and some strings so it’s not so plain. Her vocals are fantastic and are the main reason to listen to this track. Miss Independent is her first hit song and I fell for it the moment I heard it. It’s pure pop and it was actually written for Christina Aguilera’s album, Stripped, so you know it’s going to be good. A funky guitar riff leads the verses and Kelly adds some attitude to her vocals. It starts on the quiet side until it explodes into the chorus where she belts, “what is this feeling taking over?/thinking no one could open the door/surprise, it’s time to feel what’s real.” The guitar riff becomes harder and Kelly just owns it vocally. The hook is full of power, emotion and addicting energy. The bridge is fantastic as are the gorgeous backing vocals and strings that join Kelly’s soft vocals before returning to the chorus. This is, without a doubt, the best song on the album.

Kelly goes acoustic for Low, the other track that I was fond of when the album first came out. The acoustic guitar sits nicely next to her gorgeous voice and the two flow really well in the verses. It’s very chill until it gets to the chorus because the acoustics crescendo and Kelly sings in a stronger manner, “have you ever been low?/have you ever had a friend that let you down so?/when the truth came out/were you the last to know?” Despite only being centered on an acoustic guitar and percussion beats, I really love the flow of the song and it’s so catchy. The moment of vulnerability after the bridge, where the song slows down, is beautiful. There are three cover songs on the album and Some Kind Of Miracle is the first one. I don’t care all that much for it because it’s a bit boring. The verses are plain and end up dragging on because the instrumental is too tame. I have no issues with her vocals because she sounds good. It’s just the arrangement that brings this song down. There’s nothing remotely interesting about it but thankfully the chorus is slightly better. The backing vocals are a nice touch and Kelly’s powerful singing brings life to the song. However, it’s not enough to save the song and it ends up coming off as filler material. What’s Up Lonely is an improvement but not by much. The song is composed of typical percussion and guitars for the verses and like the last track, feels like a drag. The chorus maintains the same mid-tempo beat but at least it’s catchy, “what’s up lonely/seems your my only friend who wants to share my pain/tell me heartache/what’s it gonna take/for you to leave me alone today.” The best part of the song is the “gotta go, gotta move on” sections because her voice is flawless during them and they’re so addicting. Not bad but not great.

After these few lackluster tracks, the album goes back in the right direction with Just Missed The Train. This is the second cover and it’s the best of the three. An acoustic guitar leads the verses and they go through a tempo change right before the chorus as the backing vocals kick in. An electric guitar replaces the acoustic one and is joined by a set of drums for a stunning melody. Kelly employs a delicious airy vocal style that’s absolutely beautiful and works with the melody perfectly, “so go on/and sleep darling/why don’t you pretend we were just a dream.” She puts more strength into her voice for the bridge and does some nice vocal runs in the final chorus. The change in tempo at the end is surprising and fantastic. This is one of the highlights and definitely makes the album worth checking out. Beautiful Disaster is an adorable mid-tempo led by sweet guitars, drums and her light and fluffy voice. “He drowns in his dreams/an exquisite extreme I know/he’s as damned as he seems/and more heaven than a heart could hold,” she sings in the verse which is dominated by a feel-good melody thanks to the sweet instruments. It gets even more vibrant in the chorus because everything is heightened and Kelly sounds so beautiful. Her calm singing makes for a lovely listen and really lets you sink into the song. It’s super cute and addicting. You Thought Wrong (feat. Tamyra Gray) stands out for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s the only feature on the album and Tamyra Gray, a fellow Idol contestant, has a great voice that blends well with Kelly’s. Secondly, this is the first and last track to utilize a dark sound. It opens with the two of them vocalizing which establishes a tense atmosphere. The melody in the verses is exquisite and their voices blend perfectly with the guitar licks. They both employ a deep tone and in the chorus the melody becomes aggressive due to heavier guitar riff and the anger that the two singers add to their vocals, “you thought we didn’t know/you thought we were in the dark/but boy your covers blown/‘cause we both know now.” It ends up being a very heated song as they carry on their angry vocals into the second verse. The end is an all-out belting spree and they sound amazing. I didn’t expect a song like this so it’s certainly a nice treat and it makes the album better.

Thankful comes next and brings the album down because of how vapid it sounds. The guitar has a soulful charge to it but it just sounds boring. Even though the chorus is livelier due to the percussion, it still ends up feeling tame, “so I’m thankful for the blessing/and the lessons that I’ve learned with you/by my side.” I just can’t seem to get into this track and there’s nothing remotely interesting about it. It’s total filler and does nothing for the album. After this mishap is the stunning Anytime and I was so impressed when I heard it. It’s reminiscent of the opening track because it’s soulful but it’s ten times better. The arrangement carries a magnificent and grand air that is furthered by Kelly’s intense vocals. The verses are elegant, the piano that leads them is gorgeous and she delivers with strong, clear vocals. She sounds amazing, especially during the chorus where she power sings with a choir backing her up, “anytime you need love baby I’m on your side (hey)/just let me be the one I can make it alright (I can make it alright)/anytime you need love baby you’re in my heart/I can make it alright.” From the bridge on, Kelly engages in some deep, powerful belts that are absolutely incredible. This is her best vocal performance on the entire album and I can’t get over how good she sounds. I’m so glad I discovered this song because it’s a favourite of mine now.

A Moment Like This (New Mix) is what Kelly sang when she won American Idol so it’s very uplifting. The duo guitar melody gives it a fresh feel and her vocals are super sweet. It’s a feel-good track and the chorus is simply beautiful, “some people search forever/for that one special kiss/oh, I can’t believe it’s happening to me/some people wait a lifetime/for a moment like this.” The second chorus is even brighter with the louder instrumental which spills into the chorus. She is joined by a choir during the final segment and it’s so epic because it has a sense of great accomplishment and her belting is awesome. Before Your Love (New Mix) is another song that she sang on the show. This mid-tempo utilizes a piano and guitar that crescendo in the chorus along with her voice. The verses are calm and nice but they don’t have the same impact as the chorus. It really comes to life during the chorus because Kelly lets her voice take over and shine, “I’d never lived/before your love/I’d never felt/before your touch.” It’s a typical love song but it’s good so I can’t complain. The backing choir at the end is a good addition and I love her belting. This track is all about her voice and she takes it to some crazy places. It makes for a great closing track because it demonstrates her vocal ability. The Japanese release comes with (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman, the final cover and one of the songs she performed on Idol. Her deep vocals are soulful, full of emotion and incredible. She does the song justice and she has the voice to make it work. During the chorus, her voice dips into a growl-like tone that is addicting and the bridge has her belting out amazing high notes. I wish she added the whistle note that she hit during the live performance because it would have made the studio version even better.

Conclusion: I knew coming into the album that it was going to be the weakest release from Kelly but I didn’t expect to like most of the album. Obviously, it has a few filler tracks and some are really uninspired but the songs that are good are very good. There aren’t any issues with her vocals because she’s an amazing singer. The production is the only aspect that stumbles in a few places. Kelly is definitely one of the best vocalists in pop music right now and this album does a fantastic job of showcasing that. It’s a good pop debut and I’m really glad I checked it out because it’s added a few new songs to my list of favourite Kelly tracks.

Recommended Tracks: Miss Independent, Just Missed The Train, Anytime, A Moment Like This (New Mix), You Thought Wrong (feat. Tamyra Gray) and Low

Rating

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