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Pop album by Kelly Clarkson

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Lo On The Horizon, A dark And Gloomy Album

  • Jan 13, 2006
  • by
Pros: Kelly can sing; some bright spots!

Cons: Dark, morose, depressing music.

The Bottom Line: Lets hope Breakaway is a phase, and not the direction all of Kelly’s music will take in the future.

There are two over-riding themes on Kelly Clarkson’s latest album Breakaway: agonizing heartbreak and heavy metal, both of which should be taken in small doses. Now I like Kelly oh-so-cute Clarkson, and I love her voice, I just wish I could have heard more of it on this album. After listening to this album in its entirety I came away depressed and with a splitting head ache.

Its not the lyrics in the songs that I take umbrage with; indeed most of the tracks (some written by Ms. Clarkson, most notably Hear Me) on Breakaway are wonderful expressions of human angst, and I do appreciate angst. It’s more the gloomy, pounding, shrieking, electric guitar-laden, in-your-face music that accompanied these lyrics that I have a problem with. Almost every track on this very dark album screams at the top of its musical lungs: “look at me; I’m hurting, my heart has been shattered, broken, callously tossed aside and I want the whole world to know!”

One reviewer on Amazon.com wrote of Breakaway: “Kelly Clarkson could have played her American Idol-propelled career much differently, languishing in the role of dippy ingénue or shunting her musical development by leaning too heavily on overnight stardom. Instead she dug in her heels and allowed good sense (or a good manager) to steer, and somewhere Simon Fuller and the rest of the TV gang ought to be smiling. Credit Breakaway, which couldn't be more aptly titled--the sophomore effort represents a seismic split from the thin if pretty debut, Thankful.

While I agree that in Breakaway Kelly Clarkson makes “a seismic split” from her previous debut album, I do not agree that the 180 degree turn was a course she should have plotted willingly. Throughout most of Breakaway Kelly’s voice is lost in the thunder of heavy metal tom-toms that accompanies it. And the human voice for some is an instrument onto itself and deserves to be nurtured and heard in all of its beautiful renditions. After listening to Breakaway I have to wonder, is this really Kelly Clarkson, or is this the record company’s attempt to brand her, to cast her in a mold far different from her contemporaries?

Breakaway begins beautifully—and promising—enough with the title track Breakaway penned in part by angst filled rocker Avril Lavigne. This track however, is but the calm before the musical maelstrom that is about to overtake the listener. The very next track, Since U Been Gone begins the hard rock inspired racket that lasts for pretty much the rest of the album. Ms. Clarkson proceeds to belt out song after torturous song about broken hearts and barren souls accompanied by music that would no doubt make Vincent Price smile if he were alive; the mood is dark and the overall effect, miserable and smothered in layers of gloom.

That is not to say that I did not enjoy some of the songs, but those where Kelly’s voice was allowed to take center stage are few and regretfully far between. Ms. Clarkson is at her best when the musical duet is a decibel or two lower then her very powerful and beautiful voice. Track no. 4 Because of You shines in this regard. The words will no doubt resonate with many women who feel diminished by a relationship with a person content to them feel small in order to be fulfilled. Another song in this vain is track no. 7, Where is Your Heart.

Track No. 11 Hear Me is a beautifully penned ballad about the emptiness of loneliness, partially written by Ms. Clarkson herself. In reading the words one has to wonder if this deeply spiritual woman is speaking to God, or some would be suitor. Whatever the case the lyrics lose some of their appeal because of the musical cloths they are forced to wear; i.e. more of the same hard rock wrappings that bury some many of the songs on this album in harshness. I can’t help but think that this song who be so much more meaningful to me if the word had been given more of the stage.

But perhaps I am missing the central point of the music; and that is to punctuate the lyrics with the darkness only this type hard rock can convey. I understand the direction, but I do not want to follow, not on every song. Music should (occasionally) uplift.

Breakaway concludes with a gorgeous live rendition of Beautiful Disaster from Kelly’s first album. On this live recording Kelly’s voice is at its best, infused as it is with emotive soul and accompanied by just a piano. This is music at it finest, but it does not make up for the dismal nature of the rest of the CD. Hopefully, Kelly Clarkson’s next album will be more balanced, more nuanced, more neutral, because I am still a fan, and I want to worship at the alter of Kelly’s voice. Lets hope Breakaway is a phase, and not the direction all of Kelly’s music will take in the future.

Track Listing:

1. Breakaway
2. Since U Been Gone
3. Behind These Hazel Eyes
4. Because of You
5. Gone
6. Addicted
7. Where is Your Heart
8. Walk Away
9. You Found Me
10. I Hate Myself For Losing You
11. Hear me
12. Beautiful Disaster (Live)


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More Breakaway reviews
review by . July 14, 2007
It's funny that, as big of an American Idol fan as I am, I had never bought a CD from an American Idol until now (though I had been given Clay Aiken's first CD as a gift and LOVED it). I'm so glad I bought this one.    We all know Kelly has a powerhouse voice, but this CD shows that her talent has staying power. I have only listened to the CD all the way through 2 or 3 times so far, but I have liked nearly everything I have heard, and I like that there is some variety in the tempo.
review by . June 18, 2006
'Breakaway' surely proves that Kelly Clarkson is more than a contest winner. Her debut 'Thankful' is good, but her follow-up is even better. On her first C.D. she showed she could master a variety of pop forms, but in some ways it was still a try-out. Here she showcases her ability to perform pop music fluidly and with great power.     The singles are her best material, but the other songs, while usually not as great, are never filler. "Breakaway," the opening title track is …
review by . June 12, 2006
I've been hearing Kelly for some time now and she's defiantly no "American Idol Fluff". She solely deserves all those awards she had rack up last year. Kelly has a lot of honesty on this album. She really put herself out there on songs like "Because Of You." I thought this album would be fill with typical ballads but Kelly has managed to do what I thought was impossible.     She's impressed me and made me love her voice even more! Kelly had more than proven her vocal capabilities …
review by . March 04, 2006
posted in Music Matters
I usually hate the contest shows on tv and do not watch them at all. Kelly Clarkson has gone way beyond anything that I thought could come out of one of those shows. The tracks Since You've Been Gone and Breakaway make the CD worth getting. The rest of the CD is excellent and shows that Kelly is probably one of the top female performers that will have staying power.
review by . May 12, 2005
posted in Music Matters
There couldn't have been a more perfect title to this, Kelly Clarkson's sophomore effort. "Breakaway" is just that, a new direction for a very talented artist. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of stuff here for fans of her days on "American Idol" and her "Thankful" album. Clarkson provides for this in tunes like "Because Of You," "Where Is Your Heart" and "Beautiful Disaster." But the real gems here are her edgier tunes like "Breakaway," "Addicted" and "I Hate Myself For Losing You." These tunes …
review by . March 22, 2005
Pros: The songwriting is a lot better here than on Thankful, the material is more mature     Cons: The album can come off as depressing at times (read review)     The Bottom Line: Breakaway is a great departure from Thankful, but a good one. Now I'm just wondering if she'll continue in this direction with her next album...     When I think of Kelly Clarkson, I think of American Idol. I think of her movie (that I LIKED, even though it flopped), …
review by . December 10, 2004
Thankfully, American Idol alumni such as Kelly and, to a certain extent, Clay, are truly breaking away from the sugary trappings of the show and forging their own identities and unique sounds.    While Kelly's first album was a good showcase of Kelly the singer, this album is an amazing showcase of Kelly the singer of songs that mean something to her. She and her handlers have smartly realized that the hackneyed Britney/Hillary/Ashley types have mostly worn out their welcome …
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Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #187
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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Kelly Clarkson could have played herAmerican Idol-propelled career much differently, languishing in the role of dippy ingénue or shunting her musical development by leaning too heavily on overnight stardom. Instead she dug in her heels and allowed good sense (or a good manager) to steer, and somewhere Simon Fuller and the rest of the TV gang ought to be smiling. CreditBreakaway, which couldn't be more aptly titled--the sophomore effort represents a seismic split from the thin if pretty debut,Thankful. Here we encounter Clarkson as superstar, with the humility that made her likable on the first disc tucked tightly under her arm. First single and leadoff track "Breakaway" topped the pop charts on arrival, and its rock-friendly thumps, dips, and rolls don't wear out their welcome. Instead,they blend into the firestorm of beats and guitars that is "Since U Been Gone," another shout-it-out rocker. Those songs set the tone for the rest of the disc in all its fury: The innocence is long gone, "Addicted" and "Hear Me" say. The big, expressive voice ringed by the occasional high-pitch trill--the one that prompted millions to get behind her onIdol--doesn't dip entirely off the radar, though. On "Where Is Your Heart" and the stunning live closer "Beautiful Disaster," it's there in full force--a hint, maybe, that despite the wide, smart career stepBreakawayrepresents, her fans come first.-Tammy La Gorce
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Label: RCA
Artist: Kelly Clarkson
Genre: Pop
Release Date: November 30, 2004

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