A traumatic breakup, learning to stand on her own two feet, gracefully entering each new chapter of life, and falling in love again are just a few of the stories Kelsea Ballerini tells on her sophomore album Unapologetically, released November 3. A lot has happened in Kelsea’s life since her debut album The First Time exploded onto the country music scene in 2015. Unapologetically seamlessly picks up where The First Time left off, creating a beautifully, thoughtfully written continuation of her unfolding story.
The tracks are carefully arranged to create an epic story arc. “Graveyard” is a powerful but somber opening track where Ballerini decides to run away from a relationship rather than be “another name your graveyard.”
The third single “Miss Me More” takes on an edgy, synth-pop vibe and relies heavily on repetitive rhythmic beats. Ballerini has said she’s been influenced by the beats in rap music, and that influence comes out the most in this powerful post-breakup anthem. Fans of Taylor Swift will appreciate the wistful “Roses,” which resembles a combination of Tay’s sound on Red and 1989 albums, with Kelsea’s own twist.
The most country-sounding track on the album is “High School,” which became such a fan-favorite on YouTube that Kelsea decided to include it on the album. The song pays homage to a boy who still wishes to relive his glory days in high school (playing on the football team, dating the head cheerleader, etc.) and is unable to cope with growing up after graduation.
The album’s turning point to a more optimistic vibe ironically comes with a song titled, “End of the World.” This song is truly one of the best songs on the album – Kelsea sings about how she met “the one” at a point when she thought she was at “the end of the world.” Everything changed despite being at such a low point, bringing a certain level of gravitas to the track. “I Hate Love Songs,” is a song that Kelsea has been performed at the Grand Ole Opry and on late night talk shows. The sassy lyrics are absolute gold – an example: “Your eyes can’t hold stars and you’d die if your heart really skipped.”
The album ends on a sweet note with “Unapologetically” and the epic lead single from the album, “Legends.”
Buy “Unapologetically” on iTunes and see Kelsea Ballerini’s recently announced tour dates (featuring Walker Hayes) on her website.