One of the most heralded voices in pop, Kelly Clarkson returns to reclaim her place at the top of the music scene with her new album My December. With every song on the record written or co-written by Kelly herself, My December is Clarkson's most personal record to date and shows tremendous growth as an artist. Going in a harder-hitting direction, the first single off the album, "Never Again," is all-attitude lyrics, edgy guitars and soaring vocals. And that's only one of the thirteen new tracks that showcase the sheer excellence of Kelly's artistic depth.
Judging by the themes of anger and betrayal that dominate Kelly Clarkson's third disc, My December
, perhaps 'Jagged Little Idol' would have been a more telling title. According to interviews, the massively successful artist wanted more creative control with her music going forward; as a result, unlike her previous CDs, Clarkson contributes as a songwriter on every track. The final product is not nearly as catchy as Breakaway
, but is far more introspective and honest. My December
's overall sound brings a harder musical style than fans might expect, with acerbic lyrics to match; the disc's first single "Never Again"--a dark rock song slamming her ex-boyfriend--is certainly a tip-off. The compelling chorus of "Hole" finds Clarkson singing "There's a hole/inside of me/it's so damn cold/slowly killing me" over a melody that is far more Tool than top-40. "Haunted" and "Judas" are wrought-over tracks that veer into Evanescence territory, while the wonderfully sparse "Maybe" is a highlight within which Clarkson's pleading voice is perfectly showcased. My December
's final listed track, "Irvine" (prior to the hidden bluesy acoustic ballad "Chivas") sounds far more Cat Power-meets-Corinne Bailey Rae than Clarkson, but it is certainly one of the most captivating songs on the disc, and serves as yet another reminder of just how versatile her voice is. Fans of her previous radio-friendly releases may well be divided on her new direction, but it appears to be the path Clarkson is likely to continue to travel. --Denise Sheppard
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