In early 2015 Kelsea Ballerini impressed with her country meets pop debut album “The First Time” which was a strong collection of autobiographically honest songs. Since the release she’s extensively toured, grown as an artist and a performer, fallen in love and got engaged. Her sophomore record “Unapologetically” hears her representing all that change and growth with a collection of twelve mature tracks. Her sound has had a heavier pop influence that channels and rivals the production of Taylor Swift’s record “Speak Now”. It’s very polished but still firmly holds onto those country roots that you originally fell in love with. “Graveyard” opens with the traditionally country pop sounding production and delivers you raw vulnerability. “And I don’t wanna be another heart in your graveyard In the cold, hard dirt that you throw down”. Its the start of the heartbreak songs where she focuses on realising that she deserves better instead of the pain she felt. “Get Over Yourself” continues this sound and tells the story of a guy who is doing everything possible to make his ex jealous but she just doesn’t care because she knows she’s better off without him. Kicking up the tempo with “Miss Me More” she continues this empowering sound by adding in heavier guitars, drums and synths providing a sound that reminds me of Carrie Underwood. She explores a break up where she doesn’t miss him but instead she misses who she was before he came into her life. It’s a confident and sassy song that injects an empowerful feeling which is quite important to embrace. But then “Roses” instantly became one of my favourite tracks on the album because she transforms that bitterness to reflect on the positives from that relationship. It still has that heavier and grittier pop production but it then gives you this euphoric feeling that will have you smiling and reminiscing about your past relationships. She strips it back for the beautiful “Machine Heart” where she addresses her vulnerabilities before the honest “In Between” where she explores her growth as a person. While she’s in the reflection portion of the album “High School” hears her reminiscing over her time in high school and her ideology of life in that time. She questions if she made the right decision leaving school at 15 years old to chase her dreams while some people seem to never leave that school mindset.
The album then hears her reflecting over falling in love again after having so much heartbreak and growth happen. “End Of The World” is a very beautiful representation of where she was mentally before she met her now finance Morgan Evans and details those first pure emotions. “I thought the stars in the sky and in my eyes had lost their shine but just like a lifeline right on time, I met you at the end of the world”. Offering a doo-woop country sound on “I Hate Love Songs” she delivers quirky lyrics about how she hates love songs but she loves him. NAWWWW. It’s a bit sickening but it’s cute. “Music” and title track “Unapologetically” are those big country-pop love songs that you know you will play loud and singalong to when your in love yourself. But the album perfectly closes with the lead single (and total anthem) “Legends” which is dedicated to her fans and the journey she has been on with them so far.
The album is just structured so well and really details the process of having your heart broken, realising your worth, reminiscing and then allowing yourself to fall in love again. Her vocals are strong and powerful at times and then they can be so raw and vulnerable too. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions but it’s also very empowering. It’s an impressive collection of tracks that show her growth as an artist and hears her reaching towards those arenas that she deserves to be headlining.
So, I’m sorry Taylor Swift can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Because Kelsea Ballerini has taken over b$#*