Piece by Piece Kelly Released Something New
By Nico Ibanez
This album has Clarkson writing less than she did for her previous albums – only writing five of its sixteen tracks because most of her time was spent focusing on her pregnancy during studio time. She took a step back and had songs given to her by other songwriters and artist., but instead of just taking tracks at random to put a quick album together, she focused more on lyrics and what she wanted to say and represent. Despite this listeners should not expect any tracks to be like Since U Been Gone or Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You). Clarkson is a happily married mother now, and this album reflects that she is content with that.
The album opens with her lead single Heartbeat Song. The song is very sweet and has a catchy chorus that is easy to remember. Not the strongest lead single but not the worst, there were other songs that might have been a better choice. Her vocals along with its production make this song a success.
Invincible, the second track (hinted to be the second single, but nothing has been confirmed yet) is a track that was penned by Sia Furler, the artist who wrote the popular song Chandelier. She also gave Clarkson another track: Let Your Tears Fall – another perfect song for Clarkson. This track definitely has Sia written all over it, but Clarkson leaves her own mark on it with her soothing yet somber vocals.
The title track Piece by Piece is a great example of how Clarkson was still able to make this album personal despite writing less for it. This song could easily be a single; it has lyrics that are helpful and relatable to people who come from a broken home. Clarkson opens up more about her parent’s relationship very much like she did in 2005 with Because Of You, only this song has a happier ending. Her father left her and her mother when she was only 6 years old. This track gives her a new perspective and she tells the listener that her husband (Brandon Blackstock) has really fixed everything her father ruined. She ends the song by singing about her daughter and how she sees her relationship lasting with Blackstock. She reinforced that thought with the last non chorus line: “piece by piece he’ll restore my faith/that a man could be kind and a father should be great”.
The next track is the only collaborative track Clarkson has on the album. Run Run Run, featuring John Legend, is a standout track.
I Had A Dream is not what you might expect. Clarkson has previously written songs about the music industry and has made her stance on how it is a difficult industry to be a part of in You Can’t Win from her 2011 album, Stronger. However, with this album she takes a bit more of a feminist standpoint. Clarkson makes note of how show business is far from what it seems, and her lyrics reflect that: “everything you do is gonna add up/it’s what you ask for so/don’t get mad when it’s not what you thought”. The production is also great on this track – the backing vocals really help Clarkson show that even when pregnant she still has a set of pipes.
The next two tracks are very different. Tightrope is most definitely her love song for her husband which, in the cheesiest way, is adorable. It talks about how the two of them are still figuring out how they want their relationship to work and how they do not want it to be impacted by her fame.
War Paint is the strongest track – and perhaps the best song to be released as a single. Mixing it up a bit with a touch of EDM production, Clarkson showcases that she can mix genres up and have it work in her favor. Depending on how you listen to it, it could be about a relationship – or it could simply be about a community in general and members of society learning to accept one another: “We can beautiful without our war paint, our war paint/ and we could have it all once we let our walls break, our walls break”.
After this track the album shifts in tone, becoming disorganized both thematically and lyrically. Dance With Me is light and somewhat bubbly, a “feel good song” – which makes for some great dancing. Nostalgic is probably a song she might consider releasing as a single because it is such a unique track production wise. It has a good beat and a very catchy chorus.
Bad Reputation and Second Wind are two bonus tracks that Clarkson lets loose and just has fun with. Bad Reputation is somewhat reminiscent of 2003’s Miss Independent only she has more fun with this track, poking fun at how everyone around her knew she was falling in love with Brandon.
Overall, this album has its ups and downs. Some tracks are stronger than others, but with her vocals Clarkson really makes every song one you could just listen to with the windows down or rock out with a hairbrush in your room. Clarkson might not have reached the level of popularity in this album that she did with Stronger, but the varied topics she chose to explore make up for that. 13 years in the game shows that she still has staying power.