Kelly Clarkson should write the book on how to transition from pop to country music. The singer has been showing up at country award shows and on collaborations for years, but finally submerged herself in country waters with a remake of her own ‘Mr. Know It All.’

Her deliberately cautious introduction to country music fans makes this pop-tinged woman’s anthem seem as natural of a fit on country radio as anything Carrie Underwood has released in recent years. We’re a crowd that’s instinctively on guard when an artist tries to cross over (aren’t we, Jessica Simpson?), but Clarkson wins with her commitment to the format. There’s barely a sniff of the electronica and vocal effects that made this a smash hit on pop radio in 2011.

Mr. Know It All / Well you think you know it all / But you don’t know a thing at all / Ain’t it, ain’t it something y’all / When somebody tells you something ’bout you / Think that they know you more than you do / So you take it down another pill to swallow,” Clarkson sings to begin the song.

Early steel guitars and a mandolin compliment the more mellow delivery of the song’s message. Later, a riff from an electric guitar drives the momentum. None of the impact is sacrificed as she pulls back vocally, relying on the music to approach fresh ears. Yes, many fans know this song from ‘Stronger’ and pop radio, but many more will be hearing it for the first time — and in a whole new way.

Oh you think that you know me, know me / That’s why I’m leaving you lonely, lonely / ‘Cause baby you don’t know a thing about me / You don’t know a thing about me,” Clarkson sings. The second half of the chorus from the pop version is removed from this arrangement the first time she sings it.

Producers did a great job mixing this single, but almost lost in the conversation is Clarkson’s voice, which would be amongst the best in country music if she decided to pursue the format further. It wouldn’t be impossible to see her battling the Underwood’s and Taylor Swift‘s for major country awards — solo awards — in the future, if she wants to.

4.5 Stars

Listen to Kelly Clarksonm ‘Mr. Know It All’

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