On Kelly Clarkson's second album, the ex-cocktail waitress turned hitmaker embraces her rock side rather than the pop pageantry that put her on top of the American Idol heap. To that end, Clarkson recruited former Evanescence members Ben Moody and David Hodges to help write and produce, and on tracks such as "Because of You" and "Addicted," where the combination of a piano-led melody with roaring guitars rules, you'd swear you were listening to Amy Lee. Somehow, this style works for Clarkson: She comes off more Avril than Ashlee, especially on the album's best moment, the title track (which was, go figure, written by Lavigne). Unfortunately, Clarkson isn't ready to own this new sound. On the Max Martin-penned "Since U Been Gone," she conjures memories of Abba, and on "Hear Me," she channels Pat Benatar. You can't help but wonder: Who is the real Kelly Clarkson, and when will she stop wearing her big sister's hand-me-downs?
- Kelly Clarkson
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