Review: Kelsea Ballerini Releases Debut Album ‘The First Time’

Kelsea Ballerini is not one for the faint hearted. You may think it’s just another average day, the sun is shining and the birds are singing… Until Kelsea does a thing. Last week it was the surprise release of “Peter Pan,” a song off her forthcoming album. This week, however, she adopted the Southern mantra of ‘go hard or go home’ and surprised her fans by posting her entire debut album, The First Time, to CMT.com. Heart attack, I know.

In a recent interview with us, Ballerini spoke of the song writing process for the album, stating that:

I’ve been writing for this record since I was 12. I feel like it’s a snapshot of my life from 12-21, and tells the stories of the emotions and all of the things that I experienced during those years of my life,” she says. “I think the album has a lot of depth and tells deeper stories. Those are the songs that it really matters to me to put out.”

And that was no lie. The First Time is a storybook, filled with whimsical tales of young love, not-as-young heartbreak, happily ever after’s and happily never ever’s.

Filled with both body shakers and flashlight swayers , The First Time is the perfect mix of country and pop music… Though within that genre it has it’s own sound. Marrying strong country elements with electronic beats, contemporary lyrics and whole lot of sass, Kelsea has found a way to undoubtably be country music’s next big thing.

The album is off to a damn strong start with “XO,” a song that makes you want to dance with wind blown hair as you walk from an explosive wall of fire. It brings the beat and it brings the heat. If you judge a book by it’s cover, you’d think “XO” is a love song though it’s everything but.

You’re still in love with your ex, oh /And I ain’t wanna be nobodies second best, no / Stop holding onto me when the truth is you can’t let go”

 The First Time features Kelsea’s entire self titled EP, including her Top 30 Billboard Country Airplay hit “Love Me Like You Mean It”, as well as seven new songs; most of which can be found acoustically on YouTube.

One of which is “Stilettos.” While The First Time features mainly upbeat songs, “Stilettos,” inspired by a Pinterest quote, joins the ranks of “The First Time” in being the slow song you cry gently to with a block of chocolate in one hand and torn up photograph in the other.

I wear my pain like stilettos / As bad as it may hurt, no you’ll never know /  I keep walking with my head up, puttin’ on a show / And fronting like nothing is wrong.. “

 The First Time is, without a doubt, what will put Kelsea on the map. Her talent, her charm and her killer smile will be hitting the arena’s before we even have a moment to take it all in.

Kelsea’s debut album is available on iTunes from May 18th, though you can listen to the entire album at CMT!