Kellie Pickler — “100 Proof”
On her third album, 100 Proof, it’s clear that American Idol alum Kellie Pickler has learned a thing or two about making entrances.
The opening line of the record’s title track and second single packs a punch and sets the tone for the sleepy, satisfying tune to come: When Pickler winces at “Ain’t no rain as cold as the look she just gave him/Everyone around us knows a storm has just rolled in,” a spark of a standout storyline lights up.
It’s not the flashiest, or the honky-tonkiest, or even the most romantic song from 100 Proof, which Pickler has rightly claimed as her most traditional-leaning album to date. But “100 Proof” may well be the most well-rounded of all of its tracks, bringing together classic country themes of love, lust and alcohol. Pickler sounds at ease here, in no rush to make it through meandering lyrics such as “We’ll dance all night long/On the edge of can’t-get-enough.” And even when the moonshine metaphor stretches thin, the combination of her restrained vocal performance and Rob McNelley’s steel guitar files away any sharp corners.
But as an advertisement at radio, is it enough to pull fans to the album as a whole? The North Carolina native has faltered on her follow-through on follow-up singles post-Taylor Swift, when the teen queen’s co-write “Best Days of Your Life” boosted Pickler into the top ten at country radio. And while “100 Proof” is a beautiful showcase of the singer’s more mature sound and song selection, as a single it misses the sass of “Where’s Tammy Wynette” or the beautiful bite of “Long As I Never See You Again.”
Radio nay-players aside, “100 Proof” manages to stand on its musical merit alone, remaining filling long after those powerful introductory lines.
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