More traditional country music seems to be on the upswing as of late, and I have to give a very big, very thankful shout-out to American Idol, for introducing all of us to Kellie Pickler. Staying true to her fans and the music near and dear to her heart, Kellie rockets onto the scene with the disc bearing her name, and she establishes herself as a possible future player in any radio-friendly marketplace. This is one GREAT spin!
Arguably, other (pop)country singers (Shania, Martina McBride, etc.) would've pushed for some of these songs to sound larger than what they are, with more instrumental or a large orchestra backing, but, thankfully, Pickler -- on just her second CD -- justs lets the music be the music. Her voice sounds beautiful tagging along for this wonderful ride. She sounds more & more like the girl-next-door who deserves to be that and so much more. (NOTE: my notes are on the 'Deluxe Edition' I purchased from iTunes ... and I strongly recommend you get your hands on that version no matter where you can buy it!)
Happy (3/5): A song too melancholy to ever be perfectly 'happy.' Great sentiments, just doesn't sound all that happy.
Don't Close Your Eyes: (5/5) a perfectly traditional Country/Western ballad that brings Kellie's subdued voice brilliantly to the front in a big Country way. A musical wish to rediscover love with your lover.
Anything But Me (4/5): a great toe-tapper celebrating the self despite a title that says it's not.
Going Out of Style (5/5!!!!!!): the kind of stuff that country-crossover artists used to flood the pop airwaves with, this track would be a great introduction to Pickler for those in the audience who've never heard her before. Fun, frollicky, feel-good, and fashionable -- backed with blaring horns -- with terrific musical surprise. A girl on the town having fun with her soundtrack in tow. SEX AND THE CITY if the city is Nashville. Could be a sleeper hit for either country or pop stations.
Makin' Me Fall In Love Again (3/5): twangy voice with twangier guitars spin a contemporary pop/country ballad of love-and-more-love. It's the kind of tune I could take or leave.
Somebody To Love Me (5/5!!!!!!): another pitch perfect performance from a voice that God made to sing big, big, and bigger Country ballads as Pickler sings about the human desire/need/want to save someone special in life. The song just cries out for a music video, complete with weeping violins.
Best Days of Your Life (5/5): a big-sounding, driving track about realizing you've lost the best you've had once its too late to get it back. It's the kind of song cowgirls will drive the neighborhood blaring out their radio. Another strong potential for pop-country crossover.
One Last TIme (5/5!!!!!!): Another magical ballad meditating on the redemptive effects of having 'one last time' with a soulmate. Elegant in its simplicity but absolutely beautiful in execution. A real tearjerker in the best possible way. This is probably my favorite track on the disc.
Lucky Girl (3/5): another take-it-or-leave-it song. Sounds a little like a Gretchen Wilson bad-girl tune. I'll leave it for others.
Don't You Know How Much I Loved You (4/5) RAdio-friendly and middle-o-the-road country. One of the stronger tracks here, but not nearly as memorable (or powerful) as the ballads.
Rocks Instead of Rice (4/5): standard Country-issue female empowerment "cheatin' men suck" tune with plenty of sing-a-long 'na-nas' thrown in for the crowd's good measure. Spare the marriage, spoil the bride. Jerry Springer, look out!
I'm Your Woman (3/5): more of a contemporary female empowerment tune. Fun, but that's about all it has going for it.
Don't You Know You're Beautiful (4/5): Probably the best "celebrate womanhood" track on the disc. Reminds me of stuff Martina McBride gets terrific mileage out of, deservedly so. Sing it, Kellie!
"If the three of us were on Jerry Springer, I'd be pulling her hair And I'd kick that lying sack of shoulda-known-better in the you-know-where" (lyrics from "Rocks Instead of Rice") This is a solid second album from Kellie Pickler, the sixth place finisher on American Idol Season Five. The track list points the way to a very personal album which explores the time-honored country theme of broken hearts. The songs … more