Kelly Brianne Clarkson was born on April 24, 1982 in Fort Worth, Texas. In high school she was part of several musicals including ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ and ‘Brigadoon’. In 2002 she won the debut season of ‘American Idol’. The next year she released her debut album THANKFUL (RCA/19/S). It debuted at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and was executive produced by Clive Davis. In the liner notes Kelly writes: “First and foremost, I want to thank God. This past year has been such a blessing and I haven’t taken one thing for granted. I am thankful every day, not just for the past year, but also for my family, friends, and life”.
‘The Trouble With Love Is’ is a soulful R & B ballad about heartbreak: “Every time I turn around/I think I’ve got it all figured out/My heart keeps callin’/And I keep on fallin’/Over and over again/This sad story always ends the same/Me standin’ in the pourin’ rain/It seems no matter what I do/It tears my heart in two”. Strings are used. Rhett Lawrence, Christina Aguilera, Matt Morris, and Kelly wrote the album’s first single, ‘Miss Independent’. It hit #1 on the U.S. Billboard Mainstream Top 40 and was nominated for a Grammy for ‘Best Female Pop Vocal Performance’. The chorus packs a musical punch and is about falling in love: “What is this feeling taking over?/Thinking no one could open the door/Surprise, it’s time to feel what’s real/What happened to Miss independent?/No longer need to be defensive/Goodbye old you/When love is true”.
‘Low’ peaked at #2 on the Canadian Hot 100. Danielle Brisebois, who played Stephanie on ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Archie Bunker’s Place’, sings backing vocals on this rock song about betrayal: “Have you ever been low?/Have you ever had a friend that let you down so?/When the truth came out/Were you the last to know?/Were you left out in the cold?/Cause what you did was low/No, I don’t need your number/There’s nothing left to say”. Diane Warren wrote ‘Some Kind of Miracle’. It’s an R & B ballad of gratitude on which former White Heart member Tommy Sims plays bass: “Prayed for an angel to come in the night/And shine some sweet light on me/Found only strangers/Then you came to me/Just when I’d given up, you gave me love/My world was tumbling down/You turned it around baby/You, you’re some kind of miracle/You are, you’re a miracle to me”.
‘What’s Up Lonely’ is a light pop song about being alone: “What’s up lonely?/Seems you’re my only/Friend who wants to share my pain/Tell me heartache/What’s it going to take for you to leave me alone today?/Just when I think that you’re gone/You’re in the mirror lookin’ back at me/So, what’s up lonely?” Danielle Brisebois and Scott Cutler wrote ‘Just Missed the Train’, a rock ballad about a relationship not working out: “So go on and sleep darling/Why don’t you pretend we were just a dream?/It’s cool baby/It doesn’t matter anyway/I’m so sorry/We got to the station a little too late/It’s such a shame/We just missed the train”.
Matthew Wilder and Rebekah Jordan wrote ‘Beautiful Disaster’, which finds Kelly thinking out loud about a mysterious guy: “And if I tried to save him/My whole world could cave in/It just ain’t right (2X)/Oh and I don’t know/I don’t know what he’s after/But he’s so beautiful/Such a beautiful disaster/And if I could hold on/Through the tears and the laughter/Would it be beautiful or just a beautiful disaster?” ‘You Thought Wrong’ features Tamyra Gray, who finished fourth on Kelly’s season of ‘American Idol’. The song is feisty and calls out a two-timer: “You thought that we didn’t know/You thought we were in the dark/But boy you’ve done us wrong/Cuz we both know now/You thought you had us both/At your beck ‘n call/But now who’s the joke?/And look who’s laughin’ now!”
Harvey Mason, Damon Thomas, Kenneth Edmonds, and Kelly wrote the album’s title cut ‘Thankful’, a R & B song of gratitude: “You know my thoughts before I open up my mouth and try to speak/You know my dreams/Must be listenin’ when I’m talkin’ in my sleep/I hope you know I love havin’ you around me/Don’t you know that I’m thankful for the blessings and the lessons that I’ve learned with you by my side?/That I’m thankful for the love that you keep bringing in my life, in my life”. ‘Anytime’ is a strong adult contemporary anthem of assurance: “So baby, take all of your fears and cast them all on me/Cause all I ever wanted was just to make you see/That I can be the one to give you all that you’ve been searching for/Just hold on to my love and baby let me give you more/You know, anytime/Anytime you need love, baby, I’m on your side/I’m on your side”.
Two bonus tracks complete the album. Both were songs Kelly sang on ‘American Idol’ and became #1 hits. Both are new mixes here. Jorgen Elofsson and John Reid wrote ‘A Moment Like This’, an inspirational song: “A moment like this/Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this/Some people search forever for that one special kiss/Oh, I can’t believe it’s happening to me/Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this”. ‘Before Your Love’ finds Randy Jackson on bass and also makes use of the French horn. It finds Kelly in love: “I don’t know how I survived without your kiss/Cause you’ve given me a reason to exist/I never lived before your love/I never felt before your touch”.
THANKFUL is a solid debut album from Kelly Clarkson. R & B, pop, rock, and adult contemporary music are all represented with the ballads outnumbering the upbeat songs by a couple. There are several songs about falling or being in love, and some about heartache and heartbreak. Kelly’s vocals are strong and soar above those of many of her contemporaries. All in all, this is a clean, uplifting album. I’m rating THANKFUL 90%. For more info visit: www.kellyclarkson.com or check her out on Facebook.