Picks and Pans Review: Thankful

updated 05/05/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/05/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Kelly Clarkson (RCA)

Having made a name for herself covering other people's songs on the American Idol stage, last year's champion Kelly Clarkson suffers from an identity crisis on her much-anticipated full-length debut. On "Some Kind of Miracle," she is in Mariah Carey power-ballad mode. On "Low" she ventures into Faith Hill country-pop territory. On "Just Missed the Train," she makes like neo-folkie Jewel. Most glaringly, though, Clarkson, with her powerhouse pipes, is a Christina Aguilera clone on tracks like the funklite first single, "Miss Independent," which was cowritten by Aguilera (who had the good sense not to include the cheesy cut on her latest album, Stripped).

Still, Clarkson, who cowrote 4 of the disc's 12 tunes, has a solid if unspectacular selection of ballads and midtempo numbers (including the rockish "You Thought Wrong," featuring guest vocals by fellow Idol alum Tamyra Gray) to work with. While Clarkson lacks the natural ease of this year's Idol favorite, Ruben Studdard, she can belt it out with the best of them and shows surprising nuance on the soulful standout "What's Up Lonely."

BOTTOM LINE: You'll be mildly appreciative

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