Kellie Pickler shines on ‘100 Proof’

Shannon Corcoran

In 2006, Kellie Pickler sang her way into millions of hearts on Fox’s hit singing competition, “American Idol.” After finishing in sixth place, behind the now irrelevant Taylor Hicks, critics and fans were unsure of the vocal powerhouse’s future within the music industry. However, after two successful albums, Pickler has proven that she is here to stay. Her third album, “100 Proof,” is no different.

Unlike her previous efforts, Pickler is pure country on “100 Proof.” With a voice that reminds listeners of Miranda Lambert and the use of tough, country girl lyrics, it is evident that the “Idol” alum has moved away from the mainstream and into the realm where she truly belongs. Throughout every song her sass is clearly heard and her amazing range is shown perfectly; something that few country artists manage to do.

The lead single, “Tough,” is a perfect representation of what “100 Proof” is all about. With its honky-tonk electric guitar riffs combined with the perfect blend of banjos and string instruments, the song is 100 percent authentic country, and is certainly a must-listen for any Pickler fan. Throughout the single, listeners get a sense of just how much Picker’s voice has transformed since her “Idol” days, as the amount of conviction she possesses on the track is quite incredible. Everything about the song is perfect.

However, as powerful as Pickler may seem, the record ends with a softer ballad, reminiscent of Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me.” An ode to her father, “The Letter (To Daddy)” is sure to be a tear jerker amongst many listeners. Accompanied by only an acoustic guitar, Pickler sings about mending her relationship with her father, a former alcoholic. Unlike any other song on the album, Pickler’s raw vocal talent is showcased in the purest form imaginable, and ends the record in an unexpected but perfect way.

“100 Proof” may not have been what many were expecting from this once quiet “Idol” superstar, but it is certainly a great record. For listeners that appreciate quality country records, this is certainly one that will only become better as time progresses. But for those that are still holding on to the Kellie that was seen on “Idol,” it may be sub-par. However, it’s a record that is certainly worth a listen or two. Through “100 Proof,” Pickler, like many previous “Idol” rejects, proves that you don’t have to win the competition to become a superstar in the music industry.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Tracks to listen to: “Tough,” “Mother’s Day” and “The Letter (To Daddy)”

Tracks to skip: “100 Proof” and “Unlock That Honky Tonk”