The very first American Idol, Kelly Clarkson, has finally released her long-awaited album. Meaning of Life, her first album in 2 years, is her eighth studio album and first with Atlantic Records. It sees her returning to her soulful roots, but with an updated twist.
“Love So Soft”, which previewed the release of the album, along with a more soulful tune, “Move You”, is one of the many earworms on the record. And I just found out that Earth, Wind and Fire plays on the former (as well as on “Whole Lotta Woman”)! Another big soulful number includes the title track, singing about meeting the right person in life.
She exudes a lot of sass and confidence on “Whole Lotta Woman”, which sees her embracing her own body and image in an age where people are still obsessed about the typical model looks.
Interestingly enough, the track that brought me back to the 60s/ 70s only comes towards the end with “Don’t You Pretend”, and I had Etta James in my mind the minute the song started playing, though it has a more contemporary feel.
Other tracks that I really enjoy from the first few listens include “Medicine” and “I Don’t Think About You”, which are lyrically quite similar – relating to finding oneself/ self-empowerment coming off a bad relationship. The latter is rumoured to be about her relationship with her previous record label. On both songs, she also soars with her upper register (whistle notes?).
The last track “Go High” seems to be quite out of place musically, as much as it has a really positive message, and almost like a homage to Michelle Obama. It probably would have worked better as a “bonus track” thing, so that the album sounds a bit more cohesive, but I guess they want to end on a very positive note?
All that said, Meaning of Life is probably one of Kelly Clarkson’s best albums to date, not to mention one that really showcases her vocal range, one that we (or at least I) have been longing to hear. The last time she really did that was… on American Idol? Anyway, it is a very fun record, and she probably enjoyed making it as well. I really look forward to her performing live, and hopefully she comes to Asia for her tour.