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Kelly Clarkson shakes up her approach on ‘Meaning of Life’

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Three and a half stars

Kelly Clarkson Meaning of Life

A change in record labels and new stylistic influences seem to have invigorated pop star Kelly Clarkson on Meaning of Life, which trades her familiar guitar-driven pop-rock for soul and R&B while keeping the focus on catchy hooks and the singer’s stellar voice. It’s not like Meaning of Life is a vintage soul record—it’s a slick pop production courtesy of the typical army of writers and producers, no more personal than Clarkson’s last few albums (she has co-writing credits on only a handful of songs).

But it’s enough to shake up Clarkson’s approach, her powerhouse voice sounding less processed (even endearingly hiccupping in the chorus to infectious lead single “Love So Soft”) and her vocals backed by plenty of funky bass, horns and girl-group harmonies that recall ’90s acts like En Vogue. The album highlight is the upbeat, attitude-filled “Whole Lotta Woman,” with Clarkson backed by members of Earth, Wind & Fire, belting out “Texas girls do it bigger” like she’s never been freer or happier in her life. The feeling is hard to resist.

Tags: Music, Album
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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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