In a sea of country music male dominance emerges a female artist who is ready, willing, and able to make waves. Clearly grasping the formula to achieve the recent unthinkable — a breakout female soloist — Kelsea Ballerini has figured out how to ferociously paddle upstream and prove that the girls of country music can keep up with their male counterparts. The courage and capabilities of Kelsea shine through in her self-titled debut EP, released today, November 24th.
Kelsea’s EP appropriately begins with the 2014 Number 1 added debut song by a female, “Love Me Like You Mean It.” We previously featured this track on Country Music #CMchat and the response from country music fans has been overwhelming. This introduction of Kelsea to the industry was strategic perfection (which can be substantiated by the statistic regarding radio adds), as it showcased a confident female with a unique blend of pop, R&B, and country stepping over the proverbial boundaries and making her presence known. In describing her debut single and lead track off her EP, Kelsea explained it’s “…a fun, happy, kind of sassy, quirky, song from a confident girl saying, ‘If you’re gonna do this, do it right.'”
The remaining songs on the album are equally catchy and entertaining, all containing a unique groove, even on the slower tracks. “Yeah Boy” and “Dibs” adopt the melting pot of genres that was evident in “Love Me Like You Mean It” by employing country vocals, a pop melody, and R&B instrumentation as a trifecta of sounds. Along with Kelsea’s distinguished approach to country music come intelligently crafted lyrics and relatable topics. For any girl who has ever been infatuated with a guy and wanted to make him hers, these songs will resonate well and, perhaps, provide material to achieve said goal. Clever and flirtatious lines like “your eyes can make the moon jealous” and topics about calling dibs and taking him off the market will certainly strike a chord with those who are wise enough to add this EP to their collections.
With the slower tempo songs “The First Time” and “Looking at Stars,” fans will see a different side of Kelsea than that which has been displayed thus far. Rather than the self-assured girl who isn’t afraid to tell somebody what she wants, Kelsea shares vulnerability with fans on “The First Time.” For the first time (pun intended), Kelsea exposes a bit of her emotional being, crooning about the difficulty of letting go of someone. The song tells the tale of the non-finality of the word “goodbye” and the amount of hurt the vicious circle of coming and going can cause. On this track, Kelsea pleads for the past to be left in the past as she sings “still holdin’ on to letting go.” This song is the highlight of the EP for a few reasons: Kelsea’s vocals are simply beautiful; it’s an expressive piece that bares emotion; and somehow you can still get down to this…sick…beat (a la Taylor Swift).
“Looking at Stars” likewise takes things down a notch, embracing Kelsea’s boldness, but with a soft delivery. A song that envelopes many of the traits that make up Kelsea, empowered and emblazoned, thoughtful and sentimental, “Looking at Stars” is an expression of want and need to spend alone time with a special someone. In true country music fashion, this scenario takes place in a truck, with the tailgate down, in the middle of nowhere and underneath the stars; but the song is anything but typical. It is ridden with sweet lyrics, astute one-liners, and a change in tempo that makes this track scream “radio friendly.”
If you are searching for an emerging artist who can hang with the big boys and girls of country music and will be surfing the big waves during her career, you needn’t look past Kelsea Ballerini. This is an artist who will quickly find through her inevitable successes that the industry professionals and fans love her like they mean it…because they do.
Listen to Kelsea Ballerini’s “Love Me Like You Mean It”
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