February 26, 2021

Kelly Clarkson – Meaning of Life – Atlantic

FourScore
By Kristi Kates | Oct. 28, 2017

Clarkson is already on her eighth album, an impressive accomplishment considering she only won American Idol in 2002. Her latest effort gathers together an equally notable team of industry songwriters and producers, including Grammy fave Greg Kurstin, to generate another soul-pop collection destined for the charts. Tracks like “Don’t You Pretend,” “Didn’t I,” and “Medicine” don’t veer at all from Clarkson’s usual musical formula. For her fans, these catchy tunes will be more than enough, but for her growth as an artist, let’s hope her next album finds her stretching a little more. ** 1/2

Miley Cyrus – Younger Now – Sony Music
The tough thing about Cyrus is that she worked so hard to separate herself from her prior Disney persona that her personal pendulum swung way too far in the other direction, alienating a lot of listeners who might otherwise have appreciated her vocal talent. This more mature, nicely balanced album strives to correct that misstep and does it well via tracks like the thoughtful, folksy “Malibu,” the encouraging “Inspired,” the country-quirk of “Bad Mood,” and the retro-fied “Week Without You,” which kicks off a triple run of vintage-inspired love songs. ***

Kesha – Rainbow – RCA
Kesha’s had a tough personal run in the industry so far, so this album could be seen as part comeback, part statement against the industry (see: “Track one, “Bastards.”) But while the music business has given her plenty of trouble, her supporters will likely rally around songs like these, which include the Ryan Lewis (of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis) co-penned single “Praying,” the companion give-’em-some-encouragement track “Hymn,” and the standout, perfectly twangy collaboration with Dolly Parton on “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle to You).” ***

Pink – Beautiful Trauma – RCA
With a visual reminiscent of Madonna’s early ’80s bleached-blonde look and a sound that throws back to P!nk’s own early days, the singer’s latest throws a lot of ingredients into the pot for a stew that’s chunky in rhythm and spicy in lyric, if, on occasion, a little over the top. Her romance-gone-wrong collaboration with Eminem isn’t as gimmicky as one might expect; better picks are the title track and the electronica-infused “I Am Here,” with its extra punch of gospel backing vox. ** ½

 

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