The only way is up
EMOTIONAL turmoil is the name of Kelly Clarkson’s game.
The husky, throaty singer, with a voice as big as her home state of Texas, is never better than when she is angry or lovelorn. And really, it’s best if everyone leaves the super- happy, too- perky songs to Katy Perry.
On Clarkson’s disappointing 2007 album My December she took the angry, lovelorn thing too far. On Stronger she pushes just far enough.
Album number five is the perfect blend of cohesive themes and strong hooks.
The best since 2004’ s Breakaway , it sports high energy rock- pop, girl power anthems, crowd- pleasing power ballads, flirtations with pop- punk and even a duet with a hunky country music star.
Hello is the sort of bouncy, radioready, mid- tempo, power- pop tune that could easily be a hit all over the globe.
A song like Mr Know It All couldn’t be anyone but Clarkson. It’s got her mojo written into its DNA, another bonafide hit for her collection.
People always point out the Since U Been Gone cover/ remix on Clarkson’s albums and on this one it’s probably the wounded, self aware I Forgive You.
It’s undeniably a cracking tune but obviously cast from the same mould as her mid- 2000s smash hit.
She may never escape the shadow of this song, but if the updates are as strong as I Forgive You, no one will care.
An unexpected but welcome left turn is What Doesn’t Kill You and its chilly electro- pop. If nothing else it proves Clarkson can turn her talented vocal cords to any genre she wants.
More talented than most of her contemporaries, Clarkson’s voice can deliver a low, rumbling growl or a thunderclap high note with ease.
Clarkson co- wrote about half of the album’s songs, nothing strange about that in the American pop landscape.
Stronger delivers nearly a dozen good tunes but there are a couple of stinkers that could have been left on the cutting- room floor.
Dark Side has a powerful theme but the music fails to match the grittiness of the tale.
But worse is Einstein . ‘‘ Dumb plus dumb equals you,’’ she sings. She sings and we cringe. Ms Clarkson, you are better than that.
The epitome of the American Dream; the girl next door turned superstar; the ex- waitress and TV show extra ( Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Dharma & Greg ) who worked her way to the top of the charts, Clarkson has regained her cool and composure with Stronger.
It’s only up from here.