Sound — 8
We all know the story. Shy, small-town girl wins big, glamourous, all-American singing competition, languishing in the role of dippy blonde or stumping her musical growth by relying too heavily on overnight stardom. Instead, Kelly Clarkson put her nose to the grindstone and worked her butt off with a whole load of musical stars (singers & songwriters) to produce this album. Breakaway, damn right! "Thankful" as her debut album was pretty weak and this couldn't be further from it. At least now we know she's not gonna give up without a fight. Each song is solid, different and edgy. The title track, Breakaway (which I've now adopted as my life motto) is typical pop, but if you're not singing along by the end then you are, until further notice, stone-cold-hearted. The album then takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. Track 2, the I'm-just-getting-started-on-what-a-bitch-you-are "Since you Been Gone" has an addictive baseline, followed by "Behind These Hazel Eyes", where she lashes out for all she's worth both vocally and emotionally. Then comes the calming but sorrowful "Because Of You" and the traditional-pop-esque "Gone". With "Addictive", she shows off her truly amazing powerhouse vocal chords, followed by the more mainstream tracks, and then the balld-turned-nasty "Hear Me". Finally, she rounds up with a moving live performance of "Beautiful Disaster", and adds on the big sellers from her debut album for good measure.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics are obviously manufactured, but she had a hand in most of them, which does her credit. Breakaway is absolutely spot-on with it's inspiring and uplifting lyrics, and in Since you Been Gone you're singing/shouting along so loudly you don't really care what you're singing. Behind These Hazel Eyes cuts a little deeper (but not too deep, don't want to upset the junior school crowd) and in Because Of You she laments quietly about a love lost ('my heart can't possibly break/ when it wasn't even whole to start with'). Gone, however, is more disappointing, it's obvious that whatever rhymes has been crudely mish-mashed in, and Walk Away is little better. The rest are passable, but not wonderful, save for Where Is Your Heart and Beautiful Disaster, both of which are heart-rending classic ballads. All of the lyrics fit in pretty well with the music, but maybe some Indie songwriters should have been called in, to save mainstream pop from the dragging this album down. Kelly and her voice can do no wrong, and her tone and emotion changes in accordance with what she's singing. There's no question about her vocal talents, backed up by the sales of this album and the fact that she did win American Idol, Season 1.
Overall Impression — 8
My favourite tracks are, without question, Breakaway, Behind These Hazel Eyes and Beautiful Disaster, these are the tracks where both the music and the lyrics excel average quality. This album has definitely let Clarkson lever her way into my favourite artists. I love that she's finally finding her own sound and expanding her range, but I hate that there are so many manufactured elements about the album. I hear she's now taken up guitar, so look out the world, she can play her own instrument now! She's found her feet in a world where singer-songwriters currently rule the roost, so credit is due. There are no tracks on this album which I don't like, unusual, because when it comes to music I am the first to criticise song choice, sound, lyrics, anything. If I lost this, I would definitely buy it again, without a doubt. This is the only album I own which I can truly say was worth every penny.