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Kelly Clarkson: All I Ever Wanted

 

C+

Kelly Clarkson

Album: All I Ever Wanted
Label: J

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For her fans, Kelly Clarkson is as real as American Idol gets—she’s the un-showbiz kid, a clearly smart, ambitious young woman with a tornado of a voice. Her new album, All I Ever Wanted, is a sort of comeback after 2007’s mostly unloved My December, on which she took the reins. Now she’s working with pro songwriters full-time again, and the result is a likeable but ultimately hackneyed album that presents her as the über-everygirl. “My Life Would Suck Without You” is the kind of zooming, leather-lunged track that retreads the “Since U Been Gone” formula a little too shamelessly, and on “Don’t Let Me Stop You,” she confronts her guy with the words “Tonight I feel a little bit brave.” For all its considerable pluck, too often All I Ever Wanted seems robotically precision-tooled. Still, there’s one absolute gem here: “I Do Not Hook Up,” which is about exactly what the title says. “I go slow,” Clarkson snarls at a drunk guy getting too close; a nation of kids saving it for marriage now have their very own arena anthem.