Spin - p.943.5 stars out of 5
-- "Clarkson's bleacher-reaching vocals and irrepressible pluck are hard to dislike..."
Entertainment Weekly - p.135
"Clarkson's most vulnerable moments are accomplished and affecting -- from the frisky pleadings of 'Can I Have a Kiss' to the near-suicidal despair of 'Irvine'." -- Grade: B+
Personnel: Kelly Clarkson (vocals); Aben Eubanks (guitar, lap steel guitar, keyboards, programming); Jimmy Messer (guitar); Lori Miller, Antoine Silverman, Cenovia Cummins , Joyce Hammann, Entcho Todorov, Paul Woodiel, Hiroko Taguchi (violin); Erik Friedlander, Roger Shell, Wendy Sutter, Sarah Seiver (cello); Aaron Heick (alto saxophone); Andrew Sterman (tenor saxophone); Andy Laster (baritone saxophone); David Kahne, Jason Halbert (keyboards, programming); Jeff Carney (double bass); Shawn Pelton (drums); Rob Brill (drum programming).
Audio Mixer: Andy Wallace.
Recording information: Clinton Studios, New York, NY; Mower Studios, Pasadena, CA; SeeSquaredStudios, New York, NY; Village Recorders, Santa Monica, CA.
Photographer: Chapman Baehler.
Ever since she won the first-ever AMERICAN IDOL reality-TV competition, Kelly Clarkson has tried to distance herself from the very institution that brought her fame. More so than any PR move or interview sound bite, however, it's Clarkson's third full-length that may represent her biggest push for career and artistic control. MY December kicks off with the album's first single, "Never Again," and with the opening line "I hope the ring you gave to her/turns her finger green," Clarkson begins one of the most ornery pop albums ever written with the charts in mind (and things don't let up from there).
While Clarkson is no Trent Reznor, song after song here resonates with the disillusionment, bitterness, and vulnerability that come from spent relationships, romantic or otherwise. Her crack studio band provides rock punch, and there is a plethora of studio tricks that give the album an extra layer of sonic muscle, enhancing its angsty vibe. MY December is a curious record, and the presence of punk elder statesmen Mike Watt on bass only makes the proceedings that much more peculiar. While there's no one track that strikes gold quite like her bubblegum anthem "Since U Been Gone," MY December is certainly Clarkson's most ambitious and challenging album to date.