Photo: Brian Bowen-Smith

Kelly Clarkson – chemistry

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It took us five heartbreaking singles for us to finally get to chemistry – a 14-track project that sees Kelly Clarkson bare her darkest moments and thoughts. This project is equal parts angry and sad, with a tiny hint of that rushy feeling we experience when we’re first falling in love, as Clarkson tries to come to terms with a divorce that was inevitable. According to the singer-songwriter, her marriage reached a point where she knew she had to let go to avoid setting a bad example for her children. And sometimes, knowing you made the right decision still does not shield you from getting hurt, as we hear in some of the songs on this record.

Kicking off the album with “skip this part,” Clarkson expertly sets us up for what’s coming next. When “mine,” with its gospel-like chorus and emotionally-charged lyrics comes in, we already have a glimpse of what to expect. “Go ahead and break my heart that’s fine,” she sings on “mine,” a track that is about realizing you’re going to lose someone you love no matter how much of yourself you give. But perhaps the lyric that truly drives home the nail is the one where she sings, “For a dreamer I close my eyes and it’s all blank / I have you to thank.”

Clarkson officially launched the chemistry era with two singles “mine” and “me,” saying, at the time, that she wasn’t convinced one single can represent the depth of the emotions that inspired the songs on what is now her tenth studio album. Written mostly during her whirlwind divorce from ex-husband Brandon Blackstock, the songs reflect her emotional and mental struggles at the time. In fact, Clarkson revealed that she once got to a point where she either writes a song to free herself from the extreme emotions or burn down her house.

Speaking on the album via a press release, Clarkson said: “Having chemistry with someone is an incredible, and overwhelming, feeling. It’s like you have no choice in the matter. You are just drawn to each other. This can be good or bad. This album takes you down every path that chemistry could lead you down.”

At the end of the day, let’s remember that this is the album that saw Clarkson admit that “love’s no friend of mine” as she gracefully taps out, sings about being torn down by someone she gave her best to please, and ask, “what good’s a lighthouse when the light is burning out?” I doubt many people will care to argue that this is not her most vulnerable and stirring record to date because, in fact, it’s one which only a handful of artists can dare to match. Her vocals, always a blessing, served to heighten the emotions already running wild in the songs.

If you appreciate good songs with beautifully crafted and meaningful lyrics, chemistry can’t fail to hit the mark for you. If you can’t get enough of Clarkson’s insane vocals, or you want a record that will change your perception of love, if you want to go on a trip that sobers you up, chemistry is here to satisfy these cravings and more. Not to talk of the added benefit of hearing Steve Martin play the banjo on “i hate love.”