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Posted at 01:54 PM ET, 10/21/2011

Album review: Kelly Clarkson, “Stronger”

Kelly Clarkson famously broke out of record label captivity with “My December,” her tepidly received ’07 Alanis Morissette homage, and she’s been atoning for it ever since.

Perhaps as a result, “Stronger” doesn’t venture far from Clarkson’s wheelhouse: punchy pop songs overloaded with drama, and resentment.

Clarkson can make anything sound good, usually without trying very hard, and she knocks down these lightweight Top 40 anthems and mid-tempo ballads as if she were swatting flies.

“Stronger” ventures cautiously into both electro-pop (on the cringe-worthy “Einstein”: “I may not be Einstein/But I know/Dumb plus dumb equals you”) and Bruno Mars-ian soul (on the tepid first single, “Mr. Know It All”). Clarkson has two moods — scrappy and morose — and “Stronger” works every possible combination of both.

While it lacks a knockout track, it’s familiar, comforting, and utterly unchallenging, a good album by a great vocalist who, it’s easy to still hope, is capable of a lot more.

By Allison Stewart  |  01:54 PM ET, 10/21/2011

Categories:  Album reviews | Tags:  Kelly Clarkson

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