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CD review: Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Stronger’

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Kelly Clarkson 'Stronger'
Three stars

Kelly Clarkson is a fantastic singer, which is both the biggest strength and the greatest frustration of her fifth album, Stronger. It’s wonderful to hear her belt out impeccably crafted pop songs like the pulsing, infectious “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)” and the shimmering, energetic “I Forgive You,” which she imbues with more personality and vibrancy than a dozen other pop starlets could muster. But Stronger is filled with safe, unimaginative songwriting and production that leaves Clarkson’s voice as the only thing to set her apart. She’s great at delivering screw-you empowerment anthems like “Mr. Know It All” and “You Love Me,” and she gives her all even on the most unimpressive numbers. Clarkson’s fondness for Nashville country (hinted at on ballad “Breaking Your Own Heart”), ’80s glam and dark alt-rock (as on her 2007 album My December) could be taking her music in more original, intriguing directions; instead Stronger is a thoroughly enjoyable but hardly remarkable of-the-moment pop record.

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