Kelly Clarkson is hard at work recording her 7th studio album. After 14 years with RCA, she signed with Atlantic Records last summer, and her next album is going to be soulful pop rather than the pop rock we’re used to hearing from her. She shared plenty of studio updates in July, August, and September. In October, Kelly was busy promoting her new children’s book, River Rose And The Magical Lullaby. During the many interviews about the book, she talked extensively about her new music, too. In November, we learned about another songwriter working with Kelly, what classic singers the new music sounds like… and when the album will likely be out. Now the year is nearly over, and Kelly’s shared some more details about the upcoming record during some December interviews.
On December 5th, Kelly sat down with 106.7 Lite FM to talk about her cover of Hamilton‘s “It’s Quiet Uptown” as well as her upcoming album. Although her 2013 Christmas album, Wrapped In Red, is her favorite album released so far, Kelly says the new soulful album “is going to beat it.”
It’s going so well. We are creating the album right now… I’m writing a bit, there definitely are some songs I’m writing on. But I’m basically just meeting with a bunch of writers and gearing them towards this new soulful R&B pop direction. It’s basically the record I’ve been wanting to make since I was a kid. I’m telling all these writers what I want to sing about. A lot of people, when you’re happy, they all of a sudden want you to sing really happy songs. And I’m like, “I was not meant to sing super happy songs.”
[Soulful] is my style originally. What I sang on Idol, or even before when I was a kid, it was either soulful or gospel or country. And it was so funny, because on Idol, right after it, I got with this one producer and we wrote “Miss Independent,” and from that song, everything just went more pop rock. Which is awesome, because I love that song and all my songs that I’ve had. But innately, soulful stuff is my vibe. That’s what I grew up singing. My mom heard what I’m doing right now for the record. I’ve played her like six of the songs, and literally when I finished playing it she was like, “Finally! Finally people are on board making this record with you.” So it’s really really good.
When asked about the writing process:
It’s always different, this is even different as well, because I’m working with Craig Kallman at Atlantic. We’re kind of getting to know each other. I’ve never met a bunch of writers in a camp scenario before, and it was super awkward at first… It’s an awkward thing to plan to write a song. Or to tell people to limit a writer of what they’re supposed to write that day. So basically I just walked into rooms going, “Hey, I want something soulful, I want a great message, I’m into lyrics, I don’t want it to be just dumb write-off lyrics.” I want it to be something super soulful that I can really sing, because this is a singer’s record that we’re making. And I don’t limit them too much, because I don’t think you should limit any creative person or you’ll miss something amazing.
But it’s different. I write on my own alone, either writing on a napkin somewhere or in my notes or something. The record’s going to be like all my records, it’s all just going to be done different, like every song.
Kelly starts talking about the new album around 6:32 below:
At the end of December, Radio.com published a lengthy interview with Kelly. She talked about “It’s Quiet Uptown,” doing Broadway in the future, politics, and her upcoming album.
We’re making my best record, according to my friends and mother. My mother was literally like, “finally” after she heard some of the songs, because she likes the bluesy, soulful side of me, because that’s what I grew up singing, whether that was pop, soul, or gospel or whatever. So my mother said, after I played her six songs from this new album, she was like, “finally.”
I was like, “Okay, well. I mean the last 15 years wasn’t too shabby.” But she was like, “No, no, no, it’s good, it’s just not you. This is really you, like from childhood.” I used to sing this in the shower.
Kelly mentioned that there will be two features on her next record:
I’m excited to possibly have one or two collaborations, just things that people don’t expect. I’ve been in the business for years now, and everybody kind of knows what to expect when you get a Kelly Clarkson record. So they won’t with this one, and I like that. I like that it’s something different.
It’s very much a singer’s record, and it’s just more an R&B, soulful vibe. I think you just gotta change it up, because then it just gets stale and repetitive and monotonous, and then I’m onstage, and I’m like, “Blah, blah, blah.”
She also revealed some songwriters she’s worked with this time around and how much she’s writing:
Some are the same collaborators from before, but also some new ones. Monarch is new, Audra Mae is a great writer I’ve been writing with. Nick Ruth, Greg Kurstin, Jesse Shatkin, Jason Halbert again.
But the hardest thing has been when you have a career of hits, so people are like “This is what’s successful with her.” They all wanna write those kind of songs. So it was hard in the beginning to switch gears with everyone and go, “This is amazing, but that’s not what we’re doing this time.”
And also for me as a writer as well, I’ve kinda had to prioritize my time, because I have four kids, and then I had a book release and a new deal learning all the new people at Atlantic and all this kind of stuff, and now the Hamilton thing.
I’ve only written a bit on the album. Atlantic was like, “Let’s get you writing things.” I’m like, “Honestly, I just wanna make sure I have a record that I wanna sing the crap out of, a record that not everybody could sing, a record that they’re like, ‘Damn, she sang on that record.’”
I don’t care who writes it; I don’t care if I write it. I’ve written some that aren’t on the album, but I don’t have to write them all. I just want something that I can really emote, and when I get offstage I’m exhausted because it was so amazing and fun and different. I think it’s time for something creatively different. So once we geared everybody that way, it’s shaping this amazing album.
Kelly has consistently described the new music as soulful and R&B leaning. That will come out in the instruments, too:
Yeah, there’s horns… it’s like a fresh, urban take on ’90s R&B pop. I’m not doing an Amy Winehouse record, by any means. It’s not gonna sound like Etta James or anything, though I love her. It’s gonna be definitely fresh and more contemporary, but it’s got these influences and elements from my love of Annie Lennox and Whitney Houston and En Vogue and TLC and Prince. There’s one that’s kind of a little Tina Turner.
It’s like all these elements, it’s all those people. And that’s the thing, I’ve worked with people that have wanted me to make Whitney records or Celine records or whatever. “Oh, you’re like a new Pat Benatar.”
And I’m like, I don’t have to be one of those. I like all of them. I love rock elements in things, I love R&B, I think even when you merge country and blues, we have a song on the record that’s like that, and it’s beautiful and sexy. And then we have some stuff that’s more like dance, hip hop, kind of R&B. I’m trying to think of different songs and what their elements are.
But it’s just kind of all over the place, but yet cohesive, because I think what I naturally gravitate towards will all end up being cohesive, because that’s what I’m into. But it’s so good. I’m just excited for everybody to hear it, but I just have to wait until May at least.
Notice that, despite previously saying the first single would be out in April, Kelly indicated that we’ll have to wait until May instead.
Kelly said they’re about 75% done, and confirmed that it will be all-original music. No covers.
She also revealed that she was originally going to record a country album as her first with Atlantic Records:
I was thinking of doing that one for this first release, and then I just naturally started gravitating towards all the R&B, bluesy stuff, the vibe that was what I was feeling.
Be sure to read the full interview on Radio.com. Kelly spoke extensively about the new album, Broadway, country music, her label drama, and her views celebrities voicing their opinions in politics.
Catch up on all we know about Kelly’s upcoming album, and keep checking back here for all the latest Kelly Clarkson music news, too. We’re sure to get more studio updates and interviews as Kelly continues recording the new album.