Kimberly Caldwell

Without Regret

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Usually, American Idol also-rans deliver their post-show album immediately, because if they don’t, they run the risk of being forgotten. Not Kimberly Caldwell. She took a whopping seven years to deliver her debut, Without Regret, staying in the pop culture spotlight for that three-quarters of a decade by appearing on TV and modeling campaigns, spending so much time at the fringes of the mass-market mainstream that it became easy to forget precisely why she was famous. Without Regret is designed as a reminder -- a full-blown, air-brushed, impeccably manicured collection of power ballads and updated arena rock designed to showcase Caldwell’s strut. Frequently, all these machinations just wind up playing like a straitjacketed, tempered-down Kelly Clarkson, retaining the oversized production but lacking the gargantuan hooks or personality, for that matter. Caldwell is not a bad singer -- she’s nicely throaty and gamely throws herself into all the songs, including pro forma Diane Warren and rather horrible Chad Kroeger -- but she’s so eager to play by the rules that she never winds up injecting these purely professional tunes with much firepower. Then again, Without Regret is designed as pure product -- and on that level it does succeed, since it’s pleasurable background music that never calls attention to itself. But that in itself poses a question: why wait this long to deliver a record that could have been released at any point in the last seven years to a similar amount of attention?

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