One of the fascinating aspects of Colbie Caillat's second solo album Breakthrough is that she put together a "writing camp" of songwriters in Hawaii last year inviting her frequent collaborators Jason Reeves and Mikal Blue as well as Kara DioGuardi to write possible songs for the album. Reportedly they churned out about 50 songs and eventually whittled it down to the 13 that make up Breakthrough. The final result is remarkably slick, cohesive and similar sounding, but that isn't always a great thing.
Released August 2009 by Universal Republic.
Yes It's Pleasant, But...
Colbie Caillat is a very pleasing, charming performer. Her personality was the true animation behind the breakthrough single "Bubbly." She sounds just as winning here, and you can hear her smile in the music. However, if you were to watch these songs performed in a small club, chances are after the second or third song you would be thinking about that next drink, chatting with friends, and pleased at the simple, non-distracting music played onstage. There is a need for music like this, but Caillat's pristine vocals and occasional way with words promises much more than she seems to deliver on record. Words like, "The way you take my hand is just so sweet, and that crooked smile of yours it knocks me off my feet," on "You Got Me" may generate a small smile, but depth is lacking.
Background Music for a Warm Summer Day
The up side is if you want pleasant music on a warm summer day to play in the background, or need contemporary music for an event likely to offend no one, Breakthrough is your album. "Fallin' For You" has a midtempo gently rocking beat that is among the most infectious here. Singing along is even likely after the second or third time through. Or break down this album into just snippets of two or three songs in the midst of other music and Colbie Caillat will add to your listening experience.
Top Tracks on Breakthrough
- "I Won't"
- "Fallin' For You"
- "Break Through"
Consolidating the Fan Base Instead of Reaching Out
The title Breakthrough may be a bit confusing to some listeners. It seems to carry the connotation of reaching in a new direction or depicting a new level of achievement for the artist. Instead of something to fit those expectations, this album seems primarily an effort to consolidate Colbie Caillat's existing fan base. If you were charmed by her first album Coco, chances are you will like this one too. It's a a little slicker, a little more polished, but it is the same Colbie Caillat. Remember to take it in the car when you are off to the park or the beach as the closing days of summer do their magic, and you are unlikely to be sorry.