Country newcomer Kelsea Ballerini released her debut self-titled EP last week on Black River Entertainment. The five song sample includes her rising hit “Love Me Like You Mean It” and a number of other teenage friendly songs. The EP serves as a strong coming out party for an artist that some have gone as far to call the next Taylor Swift.
The twenty year old Tennessee native has been chasing her dream of becoming a country star since she was 13. Over that time she has perfected her ability to write songs that people want to hear. There’s a difference between that and being able to write songs in general. Ballerini has the more desirable skill and it shows on the record; where she had a hand in writing all five songs. Her first single “Love Me Like You Mean It” could very easily be an anthem for teenage girl across the country. “If you’re gonna say and make me believe it, if you’re gonna love me boy, love me like you mean it,” sings Ballerini at the end of each chorus. It’s a fun song that fills a void in country music. Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood resonate with the older female country crowd, but fail to connect with the teenage crowd. That’s where Ballerini comes in.
Songs like “Dibs” and “Yeah Boy” follow in the footsteps of her debut single. Both songs feature catchy chorus and clear teen messages. On “Dibs” Ballerini sings of wanting to place a “dib” on her crush. “I’m callin’ dibs on your lips, on your kiss, on your time, on your hand, on your heart, all mine,” sings Kelsea Ballerini. It’s a line you can hear teenage girls saying to their friends in hallways across the country. “Yeah Boy” follows a similar theme. “Yeah boy, I’m digging what you’re doing, yeah boy, I’m trying to keep it hard, but you’re making it hard.”
The remainder of the album features “First Time” and “Looking at Stars.” Kelsea Ballerini wrote “First Time” by herself and originally didn’t think that it would make the final cut of the record. Well, it did, and we should be glad. Not only are her songwriting skills on full display but her vocals make their strongest appearance. Her ability to sing both up and down tempo songs shows maturity. The years of hard work and training are prevalent. She wraps the EP up with “Looking at Stars.” A fun loving song that tells the story of a budding teenage love.
As a whole it’s an album aimed at teenage girls, yet manages to connect with a broader audience. Any country fan would be hard pressed not to find themselves singing along after a few listens. Ballerini’s voice is highly listenable and very smooth. Some artists have unique sounds others are simply strong vocalists, and Kelsea shouldn’t be categorized in the latter. If you haven’t given the album a listen we highly recommend it.
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