Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Piece By Piece: Review Revue

Bradley Stern | March 3, 2015 6:03 am
Kelly Clarkson's 'Piece By Piece': Album Review
Who among us isn’t a Kelly Clarkson fan? Check out our review of Clarkson's latest LP.

After teasing us with piece by piece of her brand new album over the past few weeks — from “Invincible” to “Piece By Piece” to “Take You High” — Kelly Clarkson finally makes her landing today with the release of Piece By Piece.

And how does it sound as a whole?

Here at Idolator, we ultimately gave the album three and a half out of five stars, calling it “good, of course — like a familiar suburban chain restaurant, a Clarkson album always delivers comfortably and consistently — but here the more basic cuts pale in comparison to several remarkable tracks that hopefully point to a deepening in Kelly’s songcraft.”

Did Kelly’s heartbeat songs fall in good favor with other critics around the world? Find out.

:: The New York Times found good in the production, but ultimately seems somewhat mixed about the entire sound of the LP: “The music is huge and glossy, a technical tour de force. It’s a product of the current pop-industrial complex…Every song aims for the monumental, a strategy that’s competitive for radio play but wearying over the course of a whole album.”

:: The Guardian praised Kelly’s personal flare, but found less to get excited about in terms of sound, giving the album three out of five stars: “Kelly Clarkson, winner of the first series of American Idol, has outlasted most reality stars, thanks to a knack for spotting (or co-writing) exactly the right air-punching empowerment anthems. But she’s also a truth-teller, and her candour carries her seventh album, which otherwise doesn’t provide many new angles on pop, rock or R&B.”

:: AV Club found good in the title track but thought she played the album too safe, giving it a C: “Piece By Piece could use more of [“Piece By Piece”‘s] emotional complexity and personal connection. But it could also stand to be a little less conventional, especially since Clarkson’s the rare pop star who sounds most comfortable when she’s not playing it safe…i’s hard to shake the feeling the album would’ve been far better had it taken a few more risks.”

:: AllMusic gave the album three out of five stars, pointing out that the production often outshines the singer: “Piece by Piece often makes the cardinal mistake of so many botched albums by pop divas: it places the emphasis on sound, not song. This decision tends to submerge Clarkson, who performs as powerfully as ever but is nevertheless overwhelmed by skittish beats, fragmented samples, and electronic sheen.”

:: Billboard gave the album three and a half out of five stars, and a mostly positive review that also praises the title track: “With her sixth studio album, Piece by Piece, Clarkson looks to recapture the form that led to four straight top 10 hits (all from 2004 sophomore slam Breakaway) a decade ago — and occasionally exceeds it…when Clarkson forges a real emotional connection — like on the raw, personal title track, another standout vocal showcase — the album transcends the hammier, more hackneyed moments in between.”

:: Finally, Newsday notes that a happier Clarkson makes for a more subdued record, giving the album a B: “Clarkson’s successful home life seems to have quenched much of the fire that fueled her previous successes. Rather than the rage of ‘Since U Been Gone’ or the sass of ‘Walk Away’ or even the wrenching pain of ‘Because of You,’ we get a much calmer, less excited Clarkson on Piece by Piece, her first pop album in four years.”

What did you think of the record? Sound off in the comments below.