Clarkson’s new album a return to form

While Kelly Clarkson escaped the stigma of being crowned American Idol‘s first winner, she still managed to create a successful solo career. All I Ever Wanted, released this past Tuesday, is a return to form for Clarkson.

Clarkson made her mark with 2004’s smash Breakaway (featuring her signature song “Since U Been Gone”) and attempted to destroy her public persona with 2007’s My December, an austere, thoughtful album that was decidedly not sanctioned by her handlers.

“My Life Would Suck Without You,” the first single off All I Ever Wanted, is a logical conclusion to “Since U Been Gone.” It is incredibly catchy and definitely the best song on the album.

“I Do Not Hook Up,” the album’s second single, fares a little worse than “My Life.” Co-written by Katy Perry and new Idol judge Kara DioGuardi, it simply lacks the spark that made previous singles so memorable. Likewise, “Long Shot” starts off strongly but becomes generic by the middle of the song.

What makes this album superior to My December is that she combines introspection with the fun, catchy musical style that made her famous. It’s hard to see All I Ever Wanted producing as many hit singles as previous albums, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Rating: 2.5/4 stars