I’m excited to introduce another brand-new series to my blog, titled, “Replay,” where I look back at my favorite albums and review them with a fresh perspective. Featured in this installment are Kelsea Ballerini’s Unapologetically and Taylor Swift’s reputation.
Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I previously reviewed both of these albums for Stars and Celebs.com (formerly The Celebrity Cafe.com).
Kelsea Ballerini, Unapologetically (Black River Entertainment, 11/3/17)
Unapologetically, Kelsea Ballerini’s 2017 follow-up to her 2015 debut, The First Time reminds listeners why she’s a force in country music. A sharp lyricist and a talented vocalist, Ballerini embraces the youthful mischief that catapulted her to stardom (see The First Time’s “Love Me Like You Mean It” and “Dibs“) and pairs it with a deep sense of emotional maturity. She’s extremely versatile on Unapologetically–she confidently reclaims her identity after losing it during a past relationship on explosive #1 single, “Miss Me More;” muses on feelings of nostalgia on “High School” (Ballerini also has the honor of writing this track entirely on her own); reaffirms her belief in finding love on End of the World; and pokes holes in a variety of romantic cliches with humor and sass on “I Hate Love Songs” (We were drunk when we met/So we don’t know our anniversary is one of the song’s cheekier lines). Ballerini’s growth as an artist from The First Time to Unapologetically is evident, and it will be interesting to watch her continue to evolve, particularly on her not-yet-titled third studio album due out this spring.
Taylor Swift, reputation (Big Machine Label Group, 11/10/17)
Taylor Swift doesn’t play around on her sixth studio album, reputation. In fact, she does exactly the opposite, pushing back against the media’s obsession with her and her personal life by creating a concept work around her seemingly noisy persona and juxtaposing it with a quiet love story. As such, reputation is Swift’s most cohesive, innovative album yet–it’s lyrically sharp (see tracks such as “Dancing With Our Hands Tied,” “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” “King Of My Heart,” and “Getaway Car“) and sonically bold (think the post-chorus ra da da part on “I Did Something Bad” and the breathy vocoder sounds on “Delicate“). Some of Swift’s finest songs to date live on reputation; Uproxx even included it in a piece highlighting the best pop albums of the 2010s.
And that concludes this installment of “Replay.” Keep checking back to see which of my other favorite albums are featured in the future.