Review: Kelsea Ballerini

In preparation of the big release of her second full length album, Unapologetically, on November 3, country pop star Kelsea Ballerini has been making strides by teasing the world with singles. She’s been known for her traditional get up and dance songs, but this upcoming album seems to anticipate a bit of a more vulnerable look to it.

    “Legends” was the first single released, back in June. Around this release was when the announcement that the phenomenon would be set to put out another album soon, but the exact date was unsure at this time. The sound encaptures what one could imagine a late night bonfire on an open beach would carry. The tone on Ballerini’s voice is celebratory of herself and the people she is surrounded by. She reminisces on the past and how much love they were engulfed in, but also in the greatness that the present and future hold. One of my favorite lyrics falls in the first verse, reading, “We wrote our own story, full of blood sweat and heartbeats. We didn’t do it for the fame or the glory, but we went down in history.” It regards fighting for the best life possible, purely for the purpose of achieving bliss.

    On July 25, Kelsea released both the date for the full length album, as well as the title track from the album, “Unapologetically.” The single tells about the love story she’s floating in, and the happiness that she’s earning from it. Musically, the sound shies away from the country sound and is more composed of a bright pop sound. The love that she tells about in this song was once ridiculed by the public, whether that be her friends and family or a larger scale, but she’s standing up against the criticism. Her personal happiness and relationships are for her to decide solely on, and she preaches this in this song.

    “High School” was released just two months later, and perhaps received the most attention. The theme of the song compares the depth and maturity of expressing love, in terms of going out after Friday night lights or going to a Saturday candle lit dinner. Kelsea addresses the ideas that relying on ways that used to work in your life, whether they be expressing love or other habits, doesn’t always translate as putting the best foot forward. Growing up and moving on may be intimidating, but getting stuck in the cycle of no longer appropriate actions will get nothing done.

    The most recent single released, “Miss Me More,” has a sound that roughly reflects a jazz piece. A banjo plays in the back as Ballerini belts about the tragedy of how she changed herself for a significant other, only to lose both them and herself. She discusses how the toxic relationship turned on her, and says that she, “forgot [she] had dreams, [she] forgot [she] had wings. Forgot who [she] was before [she] ever kissed you.” The ability to identify the negativity and power in a relationship is the most important aspect, especially when it is altering your own self identity and representation.

    Kelsea Ballerini never fails to get me excited with her music, whether the song is one that makes me speed while driving down the highway with the windows down, or makes me want to cuddle up in bed and write in my journal for an hour while spilling my heart on the page. Both in her lyrics and the instrumentality, she encaptures both brightness and darkness, in a balance that makes the listeners feel at ease regardless of what they felt prior to listening. Her upcoming album’s release in November is bound for success due to this talent of hers.