It’s an interesting time in country music. While female artists have had a frustratingly hard time breaking through with hits on a consistent basis, Kelsea Ballerini seemingly bucked that trend with her 2015 debut The First Time. She had three Platinum #1 hits from that album (an album which was certified Gold). A final single went Top 5 and now, all of the sudden, country radio seems to be cooling (as of this review) to Ballerini. Why they’re cooling to her music is odd as the album’s lead single ,“Legends,” is basically a continuation of the style of hits she had on The First time and the rest of the tracks on it's follow-up, Unapologetically blend the melodies of that first album with a radio-friendly country/pop sound that has, and continues to be, the bedrock of Ballerini’s success.
“Get Over Yourself” is one of the instant hits in waiting, from the ballad-like verses to the mile-a-minute chorus which is both catchy and uniquely different at the same time. “I Hate Love Songs” continues a country music trend to blend classic soul melodies to sing-a-long worthy lyrics while “Machine Heart” could be a crossover moment for Ballerini if she and her label wanted to test the the waters but if they didn’t, it works as an emotive, mid-tempo ballad which is perhaps the best place where we hear a more confident vocalist than we heard on The First Time.
The self-written “High School” is a song most young women will relate to. This one is probably deserves the most praise and press on Unapologetically and is paired with “In Between” and the title track as the emotional anchors of this sophomore album. The songs on Unapologetically suggest a superstar. Here’s hoping country radio doesn’t decide to bypass Kelsea, it wouldn’t be a wise decision.