Kelly Clarkson has a new lease on life. (She also apparently knows the Meaning of Life – anxious to finally hear the answer to the question that’s plagued us since the beginning of humankind in October!)

The One, True Reigning American Idol-But-She’s-Judging-The Voice returns to us at last today (September 7) with “Love So Soft” (and an instant grat called “Move You”), and one thing is clear: momma is feeling herself, and she’s feeling free.

The lead single from her Atlantic Records debut is a mighty, energetic blast of horns, harmonies and soulful belting from the powerhouse who hasn’t sounded this confidently in her element in years. (Come through, Thankful vocals.)

Between the En Vogue-esque opening and the blaring live instruments (similar to Kesha‘s musical rebirth), it’s clear that things are about to be very different this time around for The Artist Formerly Known as Miss Independent. For the better.

What’s more is that, finally, the accompanying Dave Meyers-directed visual is actually comparable to Kelly’s larger-than-life vocal ability.

Special effects! Dancers! Budget! Outfits! Destruction! What’s happening, exactly? The plot’s unclear — but at least it’s not an extended tight shot on her face for the duration of the video, for once.

Even better, arguably, is the slow-building “Move You” from Meaning of Life, which allows Kelly’s voice to shine even more as she conjures up memories of all the best feelings in the world. That goosebump-inducing bridge (“I wanna move you like that…”) especially makes good on her intention.

When a lyric really gets ya, and it breaks you down inside…

Moved, guilty as charged.

The soul-pop record we always wanted to hear from Kelly — and, truly, the record she needed to make for herself — is coming at last.

“Love So Soft” was released on September 7. (iTunes / Spotify)