Kellie Pickler's newest album, The Woman I Am, is one of the most anticipated releases of the year. 100 Proof was one of the top albums of 2012, and everyone, including myself, was excited to hear how she would follow up such a timeless collection. When expectations are this high, it can be tough to live up to them. However, Kellie does an outstanding job once again.
Let's get one thing out of the way. The Woman I Am is not 100 Proof. 100 Proof was a traditional album, while The Woman I Am is decidedly more mainstream. That certainly isn't a knock, just something that needs to be understood when listening to this album. It doesn't sound like something from yesteryears like 100 Proof, it sounds like 2013. However, while most in 2013 rely on cliches and rock and pop styles, Kellie tells tales with genuine feeling and country instrumentals. Kellie puts being herself above sales and fame, and for that, we get an album full of truth and soul, instead of target demographics and pop hooks.
This album has a little bit of everything. The fun and sassy songs like "Bonnie & Clyde", "Ring For Sale", and "No Cure for Crazy" are not my favorites, but they are solid songs. That's just a matter of personal opinion. They are well written and full of solid country instrumentation, just not my personal favorites on the album. "Buzzin'" is a fun song that I really like. The laid back sound and breezy vocals are just perfect for a girl with the fun attitude and personality that Kellie has. She owns that song, and really shines on this track. The opening track "Little Bit Gypsy" is also a solid country jam that kicks off the album nicely and showcases Kellie Country perfectly (read full single review here). "Closer To Nowhere" sounds like a radio ready hit and still sounds solidly country.
The heartfelt ballads and story songs are where I really get into Kellie Pickler. The title track is a honest confession of some of the strong points and faults of being Kellie Pickler. I'm sure a lot of women will listen to that song and swear it was written about them, which is the key to making good country music. Songs that are true and honest to yourself, but relatable to everyone. "I Forgive You", "Where Did Your Love Go", and "Tough All Over" are all really strong ballads, each one with its own unique story. Kellie is at her best telling these tales of love gone wrong, using her sweet yet strong voice to make you feel hopeful or saddened depending on the tone of the song. ""Someone Somewhere Tonight" is another ballad with beautiful instrumentals and a stirring message. It's a shame it wasn't a bigger hit.
The best song on The Woman I Am is by far "Selma Drye". This song is the story of Kellie's great grandma, who must have been a real character and a treat to grow up around according to the lyrics. Kellie gives us a first hand telling of a woman who helped shape who Kellie is. The song is straight up country, and so was Selma Drye. This is where Kellie shines. Her life is a country song, and like she did on 100 Proof, she shares bits and pieces of that song with us. This is a stellar song and a real standout track on a standout album.
While this isn't as traditional as 100 Proof, this album is great in its own way. This is what mainstream radio country could and should sound like. Everything on this album is easily accessible to the common listener and equally complex for the more spoiled listener. Most importantly, this was the album Kellie wanted to make. Black River Entertainment gave Kellie a home where she could be creatively in control. If more artists had this kind of power, I think we'd see a lot more solid country music in the mainstream. All in all, The Woman I Am is a great mainstream country album! Thanks for always Keeping It Country Kellie!!!!
Standout Tracks: "Selma Drye", "Little Bit Gypsy", Buzzin'", "Someone Somewhere Tonight"
"Someone Somewhere Tonight"