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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