Album Review: Kellie Pickler - The Woman I Am
By: Matt Bjorke
After three albums with 19 Entertainment and Sony Nashville, Kellie Pickler and the companies parted ways with the Platinum-selling singer looking for a new label home. She found that home with Black River Entertainment and that has allowed the stunning vocalist to show off all sides of her musical persona, from the traditional balladry of the brilliant first single “Somewhere Somewhere Tonight” and the title track “The Woman I Am” to the more contemporary, radio-ready fare of “Closer To Nowhere” and playful second single “Little Bit Gypsy.” Once again working with Frank Liddell and Luke Wooten (the same production team used by Miranda Lambert and Eli Young Band), Kellie’s 12 tracks on The Woman I Am are some of the best music she’s made.
“Selma Drye” is a personal song for her in that it was written about her great-grandmother Selma Drye, a firebrand of a woman who didn’t take anything from anyone and it’s something Pickler has shown to have inherited. She wanted something more than what was in her hometown and dang it if Kellie hasn’t found herself looking and working for something better. It’s a great song full of fiddle and percussive beats and if given a chance at radio, it’s something that should connect with fans, the same which can be said about the fantastic Chris Stapleton/Jim Beavers-penned “Ring For Sale.” The song — like their “Drink A Beer” for Luke Bryan — features the fantastic vocalist Stapleton providing some harmony vocals on the track as well. Vocally she does some fantastic things and even hits a Reba-like note later on. “Buzzin’” (written by EMI Nashville duo Brothers Osborne), “Buzzin’” is another case where roots meet contemporary production with Pickler sounding absolutely in her element. What makes “Buzzin’” work is that it feels like it could be from 1963, 1973, 1983, 1993, 2003 or 2013 lyrically and melodically except that this ain’t no throwback track. It’s just timeless.
Speaking of timeless, “I Forgive You” has a timeless feel to it with a strong message of a woman who realizes the only way to survival is for her to forgive the man who hurt her and her dreams together. It’s a powerful song that will hit home for anyone going through a breakup or divorce. “Bonnie and Clyde” is another strong song and this one, one of three songs written by Pickler (“Selma Drye” and “The Woman I Am” are the others), feels like a massive hit to be. There’s a percussive beat to the track that makes it very current while Pickler gets her Pat Benatar on vocally. There’s a strong Rock-N-Roll element to the track but it never feels only Rock-N-Roll.
While “Someone Somewhere Tonight” (from the GREAT Walt Wilkins and Kip Raines) didn’t become a big hit for Kellie, it proved to the world that she knew a great song when she heard one. It’s one of the best singles of 2013 even if it never hit the top of the radio charts. It’s the kind of song that puts life to music. It’s the kind of song that proves the strength of Kellie Pickler, the artist. When she was joking in 2006 on American Idol who could’ve known we’d end up with one of the truest artists in all of Country Music? Kellie Pickler is one of the best atists we have in Country Music, one of the strongest singers in the business of music and one of it’s most genuine and real personalities. The music here is good enough for, if not better than, most of what radio is playing so lets hope they will finally take her seriously as an artist and give her a string of successful hits. Kellie, The Woman I Am and her label Black River Entertainment deserve as much. One of 2013’s best.