Kelly Clarkson's third solo album My December is a celebration of what can happen when a top pop artist demands creative freedom. The album crackles with artistic commitment to the songs at hand. Clarkson has never been in better voice than she is here. The majority of the songs speak of pain, anger, and self-doubt, but Kelly Clarkson also provides enough hopeful material to point to an emotionally brighter future.
An Edgy Distillation of Clarkson's Talents
Despite all of the speculative press coverage of music going off the deep end, dedicated Kelly Clarkson fans should not fear My December. The 2 best songs from her album Breakaway, the rocking "Since U Been Gone" and painful ballad "Because of You," are ample preparation for the new album's material. However, there is an energy and fire here not yet seen from Kelly Clarkson on record. A significant amount of credit for the new sound must be given to veteran producer David Kahne who has also given new life to Paul McCartney's music on the current album Memory Almost Full.
My December kicks off with the single "Never Again" which sounds almost like a powerful sequel to the sentiments of "Since U Been Gone." The intensity fails to let up through the 80's style pop-rock energy of "One Minute" and the slightly psychedelic-influenced rock of "Hole." A bit further on in the album, the ghost of "Because of You" is conjured up for the voices of "Haunted."
Melody Is Not Left Behind
With all of the reports of concern from record company executives like Clive Davis that My December would be lacking in guaranteed hits, some Clarkson followers feared that melody may be left behind in favor of noise and intensity. Those concerns can be laid to rest. The melodic "Be Still" is one of the most gorgeous ballads Kelly Clarkson has yet recorded. The poppy chorus of "Don't Waste Your Time" will have listeners signing along in no time, and, despite the power, "Never Again" is irresistibly catchy.
Top Tracks on My December
- Never Again
- Be Still
The Introduction of Kelly Clarkson, the Artist
It took 3 albums, but it appears that we've finally been introduced to Kelly Clarkson, the artist. The influence of the venom in Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill is obvious. However, it also sounds like Clarkson has internalized the pure beauty of Sarah McLachlan's voice on the gorgeous "Be Still." In the quieter moments of her singing, Kelly Clarkson raises goosebumps.
In interviews, Clarkson spoke of the importance of telling a story through the course of an album. My December tells a story of anger, pain, and isolation, but it also tells about possible paths out of that pit. "Maybe" poignantly states "I won't stop, 'cause I believe." By the time the album closes with the riveting questioning of God on "Irvine," you certainly will not want Kelly Clarkson to stop either...and you will believe.