When she was on American Idol, Kellie Pickler was cast as the dumb hick who didn’t know anything. While she probably didn’t know what Calamari was, she isn’t “Chicken of the Sea” dumb. She just was showcasing her personality on the show. The child of a truly horrific upbringing, Pickler survived American Idol to land a deal with 19/BNA Recordings and released the much rushed “Small Town Girl” album. While it provided three Top 20 hits and gave Kellie a Gold album, “Girl” didn’t have that super smash hit. With that in mind Kellie teamed up with producer/songwriter Chris Lindsey to deliver this self-titled album.
Pickler has said that this album is much, much more her and it’s easy to see that it is. The inspirational single “Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful” is a song that speaks right to those little girls that admire Kellie. She wanted to give them something that they could listen to and know that everything’s alright. While some traditionalists would say that the song isn’t country, I firmly believe it is because it speaks of real life. That’s something the fun “Rocks Instead of Rice” speaks to as well, the true emotion about watching someone you loved a lot marry someone instead of you.
Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You” was recorded on “Small Town Girl” but was re-recorded here because Kellie says she never liked the way that it sounded there. With 30 more seconds added to the song, there is at least a difference there. Melodically it’s still the same but Pickler’s vocal is stronger. While she possesses a very strong voice, she doesn’t over-use it for the sake of singing long, drawn-out notes. Former SonyBMG labelmate Catherine Britt co-wrote “Lucky Girl” (and has had a hit with it in Australia), and it sounds like a smash hit single. It has a delicious smoky melody that really sets the lyric about a girl who decides that living a great life is better than being somebody’s walked-all-over trophy.
With a piano intro that recalls “Total Eclipse Of The Heart,” Kellie sings a lyric (she co-wrote with boyfriend Kyle Jacobs, Chris Lindsey and Aimee Mayo) that discusses wanting to end a relationship with break-up sex while the Taylor Swift co-write “Best Days Of Your Life” is an obvious choice fir the second single from this album. If you ever wanted to know what a Swift song would sound like with a better vocalist, you now have your answer. Taylor provides harmony vocals on this country/pop track. The signs point to this one being a huge smash hit single for Pickler.
“Somebody To Love Me” is the one true over-the-top diva moment on the album and while many would hate the song, I actually like it. It recalls Faith Hill (Particularly “There You’ll Be”) in all of the best ways. Pickler sings with a lot of vulnerability that power ballads demand. She only belts out the chorus and it really makes the song work. While it’s questionable if the song is really a country song or not, Pickler’s vocal makes it one. The album ends with the peronable “Going Out in Style.” It’s a song that finds Kellie’s last wish in life is to have her ashes skattered in and around a shoe store because she loves shoes that much.
In the end, “Kellie Pickler” is the kind of sophomore album release that will keep Kellie Pickler out of that dreaded slump. In fact, the signs point to this album kicking her career into a higher gear. There are a few truly memorable songs on the album and it’s enough to make this album worthy of picking up.