Album Review: Lauren Alaina’s ‘Road Less Traveled’
Lauren Alaina has been a voice to be reckoned with since her runner-up success on American Idol in 2011, and in her latest project, Road Less Traveled, she proves she isn’t going anywhere. The 22-year-old entertainer opens herself to vulnerability throughout her album, exploring tough themes of divorce, alcoholism, body-image issues and growing up in the music industry.
It has been over five years since Alaina has released a full-length project. By the sounds of it, Road Less Traveled was carefully crafted together with no intention of rushing the creative process. The album is proof of the maturing the Georgia-native has gone through and results in a genuine piece of art.
The 12-track project also inhibits girl-power anthems and flirty tunes, four of which were featured on her self-titled EP released the fall of 2015. On every song, Alaina earns a songwriting credit, making each song come off more personal. Production on the record can be best described as modern and consistent. It definitely allows opportunities for Alaina’s voice to hold the spotlight.
Vulnerability is key in tracks “Same Day Different Bottle,” which speaks of her father’s alcoholism, and “Doin’ Fine.” The latter story-song takes us through her parent’s divorce, but adds a positive twist of acknowledging that it’s okay not to be okay.
“I’m fine enough to know that everyone’s a little broken / Fine enough to learn that hearts are best when they’re wide open,” she sings.
“Three” is a tear-jerker. Though not likely to be a single, this ballad stands out among the rest as Alaina explores all she has missed in the pursuit of following her dreams. Though many of us can’t directly relate to chasing a musical career, “Three” still appeals to anyone who has left home to go after what they want and missing milestones along the way. Her honesty and emotions are evident through the power of her voice, marking a noteworthy three-and-a-half minutes.
Alaina branches out of emotional tunes to deliver “My Kinda People,” “Queen of Hearts” and “Next Boyfriend,” which all keep it light, fun and can serve as summertime anthems. “Think Outside the Boy” and “Crashing the Boys Club” appeal directly to female empowerment and should be heard by girls everywhere. She serves as a role model, reminding fans that there is life way beyond boys and being a female doesn’t hold you back from doing anything.
In 2016 Alaina came out about her battle with bulimia. She expresses what she went through in “Pretty” as well as title track, and current single, “Road Less Traveled.” In both songs, as well as in real life, she comes out triumphant. The feel-good songs bring the album full circle showing how far she has come since her days as an American Idol.