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Kelsea Ballerini

Kelsea Ballerini – 2014 (Black River)

Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh

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CDs by Kelsea Ballerini

In this world where morale seems to be slipping every day and the rising generation finds themselves inheriting a world that is less than perfect, it's always refreshing to run across an artist that sees the glass as half full and who displays a healthy dose of confidence. Up and coming Kelsea Ballerini fills the bill, and on her self-titled EP, she exudes youthful confidence with a sound that gives promise for the future.

The EP doesn't set out to recreate the wheel, instead opting for something even more compelling as the artist endeavors to simply be true to herself, resulting in a five-song set that feels lived in and natural on the Tennessee native's tongue. That's most evident on the debut single, "Love Me Like You Mean It" where the modern country sound melds together with a confident, almost sassy lyric that is fun and playful. "Yeah Boy" continues in that same theme, fills of banjo grounding the proceedings while the artist sings of a hopeful love.

"Dibs" is another lighthearted track based in young love that is buoyed by hits of gang background vocals and more airy banjo plucks as "Looking For Stars" follows in a similar vein, celebrating the simple joys of life and the hope. Yet, Ballerini shows her inherent maturity here as well with the soulful and emotive "The First Time," a song whose heartbreak over a wandering lover contrasts poignantly with the hope and confidence of the surrounding tracks.

Yet hope and confidence are exactly the traits that listeners will find throughout Ballerini's debut. It's a refreshing sound and are where Ballerini invests her all this time out.