Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Album Review: Unbroken - Katharine McPhee

Katharine McPhee is back.. and she's blonde!! Interesting look. The hair is giving me a Florence Henderson vibe circa Brady Bunch years. I mean, she is the most attractive person to EVER grace the Idol stage, but this look needs some getting used to. I don't know. Ha!

But listening to this album, I think material-wise, it is one of the best pop/adult contemporary albums to come out in a while. All round, she delivers perfect vocal performances, realistic lyrics, and a perfect mesh between up-tempo and ballads. I want to refrain from comparing her to Kelly Clarkson because of the Idol relation, but this album easily ranks up there with Kelly's Breakaway and their contemporaries.

Here's my track-by-track review: 

This is probably the catchiest song on the album. All the right ingredients for an Adult Contemporary hit is here. An incredibly catchy chorus is only partly responsible for the positive vibes, though, as she does a solid job making somewhat dim lyrics sound upbeat. I also like the layers on her vocals. 8/10

People are associating this song as country. Seriously? This is a typical RnB tinged pop. There's nothing country about it unless we're at the point where anything with a melody that isn’t beat driven is considered country. I think that the song is light, breezy and pretty. I like that this song shows off the nuances of her voice and that there are no cringe-inducing runs in her upper register and her lower register has always been beautiful. A killer combination of minimal production and simple lyrics. 9/10

I'm not really crazy with this one. For some weird reason, this track sounds like a Daughtry song. Ha! I wish it was more acoustic and not trying too much to be haunting. I did like some parts of the song though. This is, at the very least, an ok song. 7/10

I feel that this song will be so underrated. I love the sass and how raw this track is. The second verse and the layering of her vocals is also a nice touch to the song. The big note on the bridge does bother me a bit though. 9/10

This is by far one of my favorite songs on the record. This just grabbed my attention right away. I totally love the minor chords, riffs and all that jazz. I also like the really cool piano line and bluesy organ accompanied by a really pretty vocal melody. She sounds really cool and this proves that she can lend her vocals to a blues-leaning ballad without coming off as insecure. One minor criticism though, she doesn't sound like herself after the key change towards the end. 9/10

This is a great example of how well her vocals blend on a duet. With a little help from Jason Reeves on this Colbie Caillat-eque track, both voices complement each other, and even though Reeves is more of a background presence, he still gives the song a feeling of completion. I heard Kara Dioguardi's version and I think I'm digging the changes shedid on the song. 10/10

Without a doubt, this lush track is the highlight of the album. I think that this fits right in her vocal sweet spot. Just breathtaking and quite hunting. In this song, she doesn't do much of those annoying runs and her vocal restraint is commendable. I love the drums in the second verse and the bridge where she just throws it down. She shines not just as a vocalist, but as a storyteller as well. 10/10

Vocal Perfection! I get chills everytime I listen to this. I heard the original demo of this song by Lucie Silva and I feel like the build-up at the end is more subtle here, which I like. I love how she gets slightly louder every chorus and adds more runs and riffs. The chorus is gorgeous and the I am really digging the guitar. This song is freezing, moving and the melody is just impressive. I also glad that she is able to demonstrate her keen sense of inflections in this track. 10/10

By the time I heard the piano and electric guitar intro of this song, I'm stuck. I think that this is a potential hit for her. It is a moving power ballad that allows her to reach for the high notes with her beautiful use of melisma. The rousing chorus and the pop-leaning arrangement makes this a good candidate for a future single. 7/10

The lyrics to this song is heartbreaking and obviously personal. I have to be honest, the first time I heard it, it drove me insane as it sounded too generic and cliched for my taste. But, I'm taking it back now. Ha! It is gently sung and I love her voice, the harmonies and how she connects to it. I can personally relate to the song, that's why I had a sudden change of heart towards this track. 9/10

LOVE this song and I've been listening to it for a while now. Cute. This lets her use that distinct breathy sound that she does so well. It has a very Jason Mraz feel to it. I think that her voice suits this style so well and the little vocal moments in the background help me find something new to appreciate everytime I listen to it. If this gets the right amount of attention, this could be a hit for her. A great sing-songy piece - reminds me of Kris Allen's Alright With Me. 9/10

When she lets the lyrics breathe, she shines. This requisite ballad is actually good. The production and instrumentation is just brilliant. I like the use of her upper register here, which she faithfully follows through on. I think the solemn, vulnerable arrangement magnifies the tenderness explored in the lyrics. Chills! 10/10

A throwback to the '70s. Honestly, it is such a dumb song but it is kind of cute and sexy. I love how funky the instruments are and her vocals here are just impressive especially her falsetto, which adds special flair to the recording. This track is truly flimsy and a great upbeat note to end on. 8/10

I just wanted to say that I am pretty impressed with her sophomore record. Personally, she really has found who she is with this record. It’s sophisticated, adult, well produced with great songs written by good songwriters.

Hopefully this CD will do very well for her, it certainly deserves people giving her a second look. She is an incredible talent and if she doesn’t do well with this, then America is completely ignorant. This is miles better then the first album and she’s really grown and found what kind of music she should be doing.

 RATING: 8.8/10


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