Kellie Pickler knows exactly who she is as a woman and an artist. She's never really had a doubt and never withheld her truth from any of us during her time in the public eye. Her latest album, The Woman I Am, proves it in the most beautiful way.
The singer is more confident, more mature, more grounded and seemingly more at peace than ever before on this new project. Her mellifluous vocals, the familiar twang in her delivery, the humor and the heartache you hear on The Woman I Am is quintessential Pickler. At least, it's what I've come to identify with the singer after she forever solidified her mark in country with her last album, the critically-acclaimed 100 Proof.
For Pickler, it was important to let this new project speak for itself -- building on the foundation of 100 Proof but certainly not riding on its glorious coattails.
"You know, 100 Proof ... it was very hard to not go in and want to do that all over again," she told me during a recent interview. "But I can't go in and make the same record I've made, you know? But I can still sprinkle and keep some of that traditional sound and feel and that element in my current record."
And she did keep it well-rounded with songs like "Selma Drye" (a firecracker of a tune inspired by her strong great-grandmother), "Someone Somewhere Tonight" (a beautiful ballad that brought her back to country radio) and "Little Bit Gypsy" (her current single co-written by her husband Kyle Jacobs).
"I'm happy with the songs," she said. "I'm happy with the production and with how everything turned out, and I think each song tells a special story."
The Woman I Am is her first album since winning ABC's Dancing With the Stars in May.