For Kelly Clarkson, recording Meaning of Life has been a career-long goal since her days on "American Idol" fifteen years ago. On Oct. 27, the three-time Grammy winner released her seventh non-holiday studio LP after signing a new deal with Atlantic Records following the completion of her RCA contract. Clarkson brings the sass and confidence on the set she pegs as "a grown ass woman's record."
Meaning of Life is everything she described it to be, an urban album with modern flairs throughout and no filler tracks. It begins with the quick intro "A Minute" where she's taking a breath and having some time for herself before she unleashes her fury on lead single "Love So Soft" and "Heat," a track that stands out as the only true pop offering with an infectious build. The song is a dedication to giving 100% to her relationship.
It's a good thing Clarkson held off on recording this record until now because her vocals have matured and at 20 years old then, her powerful pipes would not have been as rich. Aside from that, Clarkson has certainly grown and is proud of the woman she's become - experience knows best as heard in "Whole Lotta Woman." She's brimming with strength singing, "I'm a whole lotta woman/ From the sound of my voice to the gloss on my lips/ Anything I see I want, I get/ I'm a badass chick with classic confidence." In the track, her backup singers have a prominent part on the song along with many others on Life. Having such talented backup singers is only one piece of the musicianship littered throughout including Earth, Wind and Fire's horn section playing on "Woman," a song written for her.
One of the highlights on Meaning of Life comes at track No. 7, "Medicine." Described as a song reminiscent of early 90's Mariah Carey, an influence on her musical career since the beginning, the song cranks the beats while Clarkson gives a stern kissoff in the hook. "How does it feel to know I'm better off without ya/ Playin' games around my head a thousand times/ I almost damn near lost my mind," she roars.
Life has its share of tender moments as well, as heard on the gospel-tinged "Move You," a track using her sultry butter-like lower register. Clarkson takes aim at her former working relationship on "I Don't Think About You." Nothing left for her to prove, she's moved on and is done dealing with the blows she took throughout her career. On "Slow Dance," Clarkson flirts with sexiness - "How did you go from a mama's boy to a lady's man."
Due to Clarkson's busy schedule between recording, raising two children and two step-children, and preparing for NBC's "The Voice," she didn't have time to write as much as she normally does on an album (only three songs have Clarkson's name listed first) but teamed up with longtime producer Greg Kurstin on the track "Would You Call That Love." She also penned the final track "Go High" after being inspired by Michelle Obama's 2016 Democratic National Convention speech working off Obama's line, "When they go low, we go high."
Meaning of Life is a new era for the pop star, venturing into new territories she was restricted from during her time with RCA. The album beams with happiness and is the album that accentuates her bold personality - fun, lighthearted and of course confident.
Listen to the entire album below.