CD reviews: Kelly Clarkson

New label, new sound is the overriding theme of Kelly Clarkson’s 8th album, her first for Atlantic and billed as the one she’s always wanted to make.

So out goes the pop-rock hybrid; in its place sits a broad, old-school soul inflection that initially manifests itself as Meghan Trainor pastiche on the ungainly Love So Soft.

But it’s when modern touches — distorted vocals, looped hooks, pitched melodies — intertwine with the old that things get interesting.

Heat is pure unadulterated joy, Medicine is ’90s-era Mariah Carey-effortless, while Go High closes the album on a surprisingly experimental note.

The big, syrupy ballads, meanwhile, accentuate Clarkson’s undeniably powerful voice, creating a comfort zone that feels genuine. 

• Kelly Clarkson. Meaning of Life. Atlantic.
• ★★★★ (out of five)

— Michael Cragg/TCA

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