The First Time – Review
‘The First Time’ is the debut album from up and coming country star Kelsea Ballerini set to be released on May 18th though one of Nashville’s biggest independent labels, Black River Entertainment. Other artists currently on the labels rooster include American Idol star Kellie Pickler, John King and Craig Morgan.
Containing twelve tracks, five of which were included on Ballerini’s self-titled EP, ‘The First Time’ gives us an insight to the trials and tribulations of a teenagers life. All tracks are co-writes, with the exception of the albums title track, which was penned solely by Kelsea.
6.”Looking at Stars”
‘XO’ is the albums lead, “I might be platinum blonde but I ain’t dumb” she proclaims in this uptempo opener. She’s pretty convinced her boyfriend is still in love with his ex, and with the banjo being rather prominent it’s a clear pop/country hit, and not a bad start to the record. The next song holds one of my favourite lyrics off the entire album “Now it’s happily ever never” – ‘Peter Pan’ is the story of a boy who simply won’t grow up.
‘Love Me Like You Mean It’ was Ballerini’s debut single from the project. It has a bro-country esque intro that is reminiscent of Florida Georgia Line, the rest of the track has a poppy production. Lyrically it’s a straight talking tune where she pleads with her lover to hold her like she’s leaving and kiss her like they need her, or leave if they don’t.
I love the vintage crackling sound of a record player in the intro of ‘Square Pegs’. The song encourages the listener to go out there and live your life the way you want. “Everybody’s gotta dream out loud” pretty much sums it up for me. I like it.
Album title track ‘The First Time’ details the heartbreaking story of being let down over and over, waiting on a boy who fails to show. It’s delivered over a beautiful piano melody and I’d love to see it become the next single. ‘Looking At Stars’ is a dreamy track which tells the tale of leaving town with your significant other, and going someplace nobody can find you.
Going into the latter part of the record with a track that is about a boy who is quite clearly trouble, ’Sirens’ is one of those songs that I didn’t really like on the first listen, but once I gave it a few more plays it grew on me.
‘Secondhand Smoke’ is the albums most vulnerable moment, and in between all the love and lost songs it’s probably the most mature of the bunch. “I can’t help that they chose to breathe it in but I don’t wanna choke on that secondhand smoke” for myself would be the most poignant lyric. The track was written about Kelsea’s parents but I think there are plenty of other situations you can relate to this one in. When I first discovered the EP I had to check Google for the meaning of this next track. ‘Dibs’ – Getting pretty ruthless here, in a cheeky way of course, by laying claim to a guy. It’s a lighthearted catchy track that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. I knew from her Twitter bio that Ballerina is quite the shoe lover. When looking at the track list I had to laugh when I saw the title ‘Stilettos’ it’s one for the girls and is a confident song about forgetting the pain of a recent breakup.
The penultimate track ‘Yeah Boy’ is another cheeky offering where a boy has caught her attention and she’s using the song to tell him so, it’s catchy but not a stand out in my opinion.
‘Underage’ marks the records final track, ‘Young, all we ever think about is fun, all we ever wanna be is 21’ she sings over a beautiful mid tempo piano given melody. It celebrates all the fun things you can do once you’re an adult. And will probably be one of the most relatable tracks to most of Ballerini’s audience.
Overall there’s some pretty good stand out tracks (‘Peter Pan’, ‘The First Time’, ‘Secondhand Smoke’) and others I just don’t care for. Probably because I just find they don’t relate to my life at the present time, although it is good to see there’s something that everyone can relate to, no matter what age group they’re in.
Kelsea may be underage and figuring out life but her songwriting craft is that of someone who is already grown up. I look forward to hearing what she has to say next time around.