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Kelsea Ballerini | Unapologetically

Label: Black River Entertainment
Release Date: November 03, 2017
Rating:  3.5 out of 5
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November 11, 2017
By Amaris Rodriguez
All eyes were on Kelsea Ballerini and her sophomore album, Unapologetically, when it was released on Nov. 3rd. The 25-year-old country singer, who is signed to Black River Entertainment, found success with her debut album The First Time in 2015, bringing country music fans to dub her "the next Taylor Swift." Unapologetically delivers the pop country sound that will make Ballerini a hit among young fans, establishing her a strong force amongst young pop country female artists.

The highly anticipated album starts with Ballerini not wanting to be another girl on a list of conquests in her fiery track "Graveyard." With clever metaphors, Ballerini sings about how she is not going to fall for someone who is going to turn her into a "hopeless girl" and "lay her heart to rest." The track's music offers a simple acoustic guitar layered on top of an otherwise traditional sound with snare drums kicking in during the chorus, putting the main focus on the lyrics, making sure they are not kept "six feet down."

This idea, on both the track music and concept for lyrics, is carried onto the next songs. "Miss Me More", the third promotional single, and "Get Over Yourself" continue the post-breakup vibe that was set by "Graveyard." Ballerini doesn't shy away from stating her independence and with these two tracks back to back, her message of putting herself first is heard loud and clear.

While the album transmits a subtle country sound during the first couple of tracks, "Roses", the fourth track on the album, delivers a strong pop sound that can rival any pop song on the charts. "Roses" uses a backbeat and a contagious electronic sound that play backdrop to lyrics about a relationship that mimics the life of roses. After the relationship ran its course and was "beautiful for a moment" it "withered" way like flowers do. The track brings strong Taylor Swift 1989 era feelings and will gain Ballerini fans that understand the classic look of "red lips", a fashion trend apparently popular with pop country female artists.

The electronic sound continues in a slightly confusing way during "Machine Heart." It starts with a clean acoustic guitar building up to a chorus full of layered beats that sharply stop with the end of each chorus. As the fifth track on the album "Machine Heart" acts as the weakest song, bringing nothing more than forgettable lyrics and a standard melody that have been heard many times before in the realm of pop country female singers, "but hey ain't that just life?"

"In Between" is a refreshing song tucked neatly in the middle of the album. The only track that is not about a relationship, "In Between" is relatable to those who feel like they "are stuck in the middle" between being a child and being an adult. Simple lyrics attached to a cute melody list off experiences young adults go through in those complicated years of transitioning to full fledge adults. Singing "young enough to think I'll live forever, old enough to know I won't" Ballerini delivers a lyrical hit.

Not as strong as "In Between", the lead single of Unapologetically "Legends" does however have greater potential to be a radio hit. Dealing with a relationship that has ended, the song reminisces on the magic that was experienced during its existence. Accompanied by a tear-jerking music video, "Legends" captured the past-tense emotions associated with an over-the-top, extravagant love affair, making "Legends" a sing-along worthy hit.

Another track, "High School" has potential to follow the success of "Legends." For all of us who wish we could sing a song about people who seem like they are stuck in high school, Ballerini has us got covered with this song. The well written melodic track will sure be a hit amongst Ballerini fans and will gain her more momentum amongst young adults and adolescent listeners.

As the title track of her sophomore album, "Unapologetically" set the bar high on expectations for this track. The title conveys a strong feeling that makes potential listeners believe the song will convey an equally strong topic, which unfortunately is not the case. The biggest disappointment on the album, "Unapologetically" is nothing more than another overly produced pop country song about a relationship, something that seems typical and unfortunately extremely common amongst female country singers. While it could potentially be conveying her feelings towards her current relationship, which is respectable, "Unapologetically" enforces a message about what type of music female artists can sell in the world of country music.

Lackluster lyrics such as "life of my party, he keeps my eyes starry so I'm so sorry for not being sorry" combined with music that has been heard repeatedly when listening to pop country makes "Unapologetically" another typical manufactured song created to be a hit amongst an audience that is not concerned with lyric quality. Sorry.

Ballerini, however, comes back full swing with "End of the World" and "I Hate Love Songs." Both songs deal with relationships, love loss and then found. The lyrics are poetically written, showcasing a greater writing ability that previously witnessed with the titular track. Both will sure to gain Ballerini fans that relate to both songs, each expressing different feelings regarding love. "I Hate Love Songs" is one track on the album in particular that showcases Ballerini's sweet vocal sound and has potential to be a commercial hit if ever released to radio.

The strongest track on the album, however, is "Music." Full of electric guitars and a soulful sound, "Music" seems out of place with the first half of the album; however it is impossible to not love this track. A jazzy country love affair, the song gives off strong Caitlyn Smith songwriter vibes, a sound that fits Ballerini's voice and a style audience will want her to continue.

Unapologetically has shown to be a combination of different sounds that somehow all fit Ballerini's persona. Kelsea Ballerini put together an eccentric combination of songs, each delivering an interesting and bankable sound. While naturally some better than others, the track list on Unapologetically is nonetheless a solid sophomore album for pop country's new princess.
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