Good afternoon, everyone! Here in NYC, it’s a beautiful day and I figure- what better way to commemorate spring than with a review of something all about new beginnings? That’s right- Kelly Clarkson’s 7th album, Piece by Piece, has hit store shelves and it’s full of positive messages. I think we could all use some of that in our everyday lives. This will not be a track-by-track review like Bombshell or Annie, but it will provide you with a good chunk of my overall thoughts about this record. So did Kelly Clarkson create a little “piece” of musical euphoria? Let’s find out.
The track that you’ve most likely heard is the opener, “Heartbeat Song,” an anthem of losing love and then finding it all over again. “This is my heartbeat song and I’m gonna play it…all night long,” she sings in a pop-rock burst of drums and guitars. This has got a great beat and you can’t help but smile while listening to it. It’s also very dance-friendly and has a music video infused with bright colors and kissing couples. Love it.
I want to interject for a moment something I forgot to mention earlier. The musical style of Piece by Piece was inspired by the soundtrack to a film. Clarkson took cues from famous contemporary movie soundtracks, such as Love Actually, to put together an album that could tell a complete story. The thespian in me squeals with delight over this.
Due to Clarkson’s pregnancy during the creation of the CD, she did not write every song by herself. Guest-penned tracks brought in heavyweights like Kara DioGuardi and Sia Furler. Sia’s contributions include “Invincible” and “Let Your Tears Fall,” which are wonderful numbers that tell two totally different stories. The former is an empowerment anthem and the latter is a letter of encouragement and trust to a lover. Clarkson has even hit a bit of controversy with “Run Run Run,” which features vocals by John Legend. It’s a gorgeous song and one of my favorites, but it is a cover, and some fans of the original band (Tokio Hotel) don’t think Clarkson gave enough due credit to them.
“Take You High” is similar to “Let Your Tears Fall” in content, but the sound couldn’t be more different. It’s probably the one track that uses EDM profusely, but I think it’s done well and I enjoy listening to it. The closing track is “Good Goes the Bye,” which is probably the most easy-listening-breakup-song ever written. But my favorite themes on Piece by Piece are “Nostalgic,” a self-explanatory jam that is both fun and a tearjerker, if you can believe it, and the title track. The lyrics of “Nostalgic” capture the fond remembrance of a lost love and the music is club-friendly. “Piece by Piece” is easily a followup to Clarkson’s older song “Because of You,” but rather than reflecting on the painful past, it looks to a future of correcting those mistakes.
All in all, this is an incredible record and probably one of Kelly Clarkson’s best. It’s got a lovely cinematic sound and a variety of musical styles, as well as a lot of lyrical emotion. Piece by Piece definitely succeeds in being a concept album, as its artist envisioned. You can look at each song and imagine it as a unique fragment of one person’s life. And that’s what art is meant to do: reflect back at you all the complex “pieces” of what it means to be human.
MUST HEAR TRACKS: “Invincible,” “Take You High,” “Run Run Run,” “Piece by Piece,” “Nostalgic.”