Kelly Clarkson's 'Meaning of Life' is a mature, soulful record

The singer's eighth album comes out today.

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Clarkson’s now extensive collection of hit records since her debut proves that the fact that she won the first season of “American Idol” was no fluke. Few singers working in pop today are as flexible and malleable as Clarkson. You can hear her influences all over the place but at the same time, she still sounds like herself. She’s aiming to be a legend.

In a way, “Meaning of Life” does fit in the modern pop universe but at the same time, it also sounds like Clarkson is following her muse, knowing that if she delivers something powerful, hits will come. She often sounds like she is singing straight from the core of her being

This album sounds simultaneously engineered and organic. That is a truly rare combination.

Focus Tracks:

“Slow Dance” “How did you go from being a Mama’s Boy to a Ladies’ Man?” Clarkson sings, as if she is in the process of a deep swoon. This is one of the best and most affecting songs in her entire catalog. It is rich with sweat and skill. It sounds like a classic ballad.

“Go High” This booming electro number is a fascinating way to close the record, awaking Clarkson’s inner disco diva. Even the pitch-shifting effects sound cool in the mix. “Move You” Another vintage-sounding number, this takes a subtle build and makes it sound like something momentous. Clarkson slowly raises her voice and it creates quite a stir. When she lifts into another octave, it adds some power but mostly this is a deeply nuanced performance. You can’t obtain this level of vocal control.

Missed reviews on the latest from Rachel Platten and Weezer here.