17 March 2017 (released)
17 March 2017
Outside of her loyal Country fanbase, Kelsea Ballerini is pretty much an unknown in the UK. While she could have easily jumped on the bandwagon and visited these shores a Country2Country performance, the brave 23 year old Tennessee native is making her British fans wait a little bit longer for her debut UK appearance so that she has time to win over a wider audience. For some two years after its release Stateside, where it has already achieved Gold status, Kelsea Ballerini is releasing her debut album, The First Time, in the UK.
Although labelled country, Kelsea is from the school of country that could also just as easily be labelled pop. Not that this sonic leaning diminishes the appeal of a record that will no doubt have her labelled by many critics as the new Taylor Swift.
The Taylor comparisons are somewhat inevitable for any upcoming female pop-country vocalist, but of the current crop of breakout artists, Kelsea is the most likely to emulate the route taken by one of the world's biggest starts.While her contemporary Maren Morris leans on hip hop and Cam centres of Celine style sing-alongs, Kelsea is the approachable girl next door who sings of dreams and boys, but with a few synths and electro sounds thrown in for good measure amongst the banjos.
Having written or co-written the album in it's entirety, Kelsea should not be bracketed as a pop puppet but a developing talent with great potential. While it is impossible to deny the innocent earworm appeal of Dibs and Yeah Boy, it is when she leaves the saccharine to the side that she really shines. Peter Pan is easily the album standout. Based on J.M. Barrie's classic story, Peter Pan is a well-constructed, memorable and timeless pop country classic.
Kelsea Ballerini may be making an album for The First Time, but this is definitely the first of many.