After “Graveyard” comes a couple pop songs, but the middle section of the record is much more interesting. “Machine Heart” comes with a synth-driven chorus, but with honesty in her lyrics that haven’t been seen on a Kelsea Ballerini song since “Secondhand Smoke” on her debut record The First Time. “In Between” and “High School” are acoustic-driven songs that centre around nostalgia for childhood and high school. Not an uncommon theme in country music, but Ballerini approaches this with a very real, believable voice, maybe because she sounds like she’s just out of high school herself. These are her “big sister” songs, ones that seem curated specifically for her young female fans.
The final song in the mid-section of the album is one of the best. “End of the World” is one of those almost sickly-sweet songs that if sung by anyone else would seem insincere. But that’s the thing about Kelsea Ballerini: her whole personality in country music is being the sweet, relatable country girl, who also loves Britney Spears. This song about fresh love and the feeling that this love is some kind of saviour fits that persona perfectly. It’s a beautiful moment on the record.
She also doesn’t play to her strengths. A song like “Miss Me More” would be potentially punchy if Ballerini had a stronger voice and was able to truly hit all the notes written in the song. But she really can’t. Additionally, the continuous emphasis on a basis of electronic production leaves the tracks feeling hollow and empty. Her live performances often sound much more full and complete because there isn’t that reliance on the synthesizer and electronic instrumentals and drums to fill up the silence. But guess all of these points aside, the real question is: based on Unapologetically, does Kelsea Ballerini deserve to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry? The best answer I can give right now is possibly.
Read at vibbidi.net.