It wasn’t that long ago that Kelly Clarkson dropped “Catch My Breath,” the first single from her upcoming greatest hits album, but on Thursday’s Country Music Association awards, she debuted yet another new track—“Don’t Rush,” a duet with 90s country superstar Vince Gill.
That’s a clever move. “Catch My Breath” is a pop single, but for the last few years, Clarkson has also been positioning herself as a country diva. You might remember “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” her brilliant duet with country star Jason Aldean, or the time she remade “Because of You” with Reba McEntire. She even got nominated for a CMA Award for best female vocalist this year, despite still mostly being a pop star. That tells you how few women are currently being supported by the country music industry, but it also proves that Nashville is open to Clarkson.
So if they’re inviting her in, why not accept? Her incredible voice and her ability to interpret songs make her a country music natural. And nothing says, “I believe in country music” like recording a country track for your greatest hits record.
Her crossover chances are boosted because “Don’t Rush” is a good song. (It’s thirty times better than “Catch My Breath,” which I didn’t like at all.) It sounds like an easy listening hit from the 70s or 80s, with gently groovy music underneath a laid-back vocal. Even better, it’s a flirty, seductive love song, not a furious break-up anthem, which is a nice change after ten years of Kelly’s heartbroken rage.
But is “Don’t Rush” better than “Stronger” or “Because of You” or “Already Gone?” No. It’s not nearly as memorable. But that’s okay by me. I’ll take a decent ditty from Kelly Clarkson any day. Any chance to hear her sing is a chance worth taking.
Mark Blankenship thinks Kelly Clarkson’s voice just gets better and better. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship