Kimberley Locke came in third in the 2003 American Idol, behind winner Ruben Studdard and second-place finisher Clay Aiken. Unlike Nikki McKibben, the third-place contestant in the first American Idol who was virtually written out of AI history once that season finished, Locke was able to release an album of her own, with One Love appearing in May 2004, about a year after her AI journey ended. One Love lands part way between Kelly Clarkson's Thankful and Clay Aiken's Measure of a Man. It's a polished mainstream pop album, with hints of Clarkson's dance-pop in the rhythms of a few tracks, but its heart is much closer to the MOR adult contemporary of Aiken, even if it's never quite as square as the cheerfully, defiantly bland Measure of a Man. Locke is a good singer, and she comes across better on record than either Clay or Ruben, never sounding as thin or strained as either singer. That may not be a fair comparison, however, since both had to rush out their albums in a matter of months while Locke was allowed to take her time, but regardless, she comes across well throughout the album, even outshining Aiken on their duet, "Without You." She also has some solid tunes here, particularly the opener, "8th World Wonder," and, in general, it's hookier than Measure of a Man, if not Thankful. The one problem with One Love is that even if the material is professionally written and produced, there isn't much that's outright memorable. Instead, it's a pleasant collection of background music, delivered with an appealing earnestness by Locke. While that might not make for the most noteworthy of albums, it is a nice listen, and Kimberley Locke acquits herself well with this good-natured debut.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: Clay Aiken