As she released songs from her album piece by piece leading up to the full album’s release (“Invincible”, “Run Run Run”, “Take You High”), it seemed as though Kelly Clarkson was set to deliver something major with her 7th studio album, and she has. This is her best since her 2004 blockbuster album, Breakaway. Stronger won her her second Best Pop Vocal Album in 2012, and My December features some of the best tracks of her career, but Piece By Piece has an unparalleled variety to it.
Getting knocked up was probably the best thing that could have happened to Kelly for this album. She recorded it while she was pregnant, and she said she couldn’t focus on writing her own material this time. So outside of 3 of the tracks (and 2 more on the deluxe edition), Kelly relied on other writers for the rest of the tracks. Something she’s never done before. Well, it worked. Sia gives her the insanely good power anthem “Invincible”. Sia also contributes the synthesized “Let Your Tears Fall” that has a decent catchiness to it.
“Take You High” is insanely good. This better be a single. It starts like a typical uplifting power track from Kelly, but then explodes with an EDM-chorus that will get you moving. Then there’s “Dance With Me” that has a stellar rock guitar sound that sounds straight out of a U2 song. The softer “Tightrope” (one of the tracks Kelly co-wrote) is a beautiful ballad about the push-and-pull of a relationship in the public eye.
Kelly hasn’t had a duet on her own album since her debut with American Idol alum Tamyra Gray, but she got John Legend (they were judges on the short-lived Duets a few years ago) to join her on “Run Run Run”. It’s a cover of a Tokio Hotel track, and it’s about as vocally spectacular as you would expect it to be.
She closes things out with the delightfully clever “Good Goes The Bye” that has a great synthesized sound to accompany Kelly’s lighter vocals.
The sound on Kelly’s album tend to get repetitive, but not here. Usually it’s clear why songs on the deluxe edition didn’t make the cut of the actual album, but not here. The 3 bonus tracks on the deluxe edition are fantastic. I actually would have included them over “Let Your Tears Fall” and “War Paint”.