Music Review: Colbie Caillat – Breakthrough

Hi!

Colbie Caillat is back with a sophomore album to follow up the huge success of Coco and it’s obvious she’s matured not only as a musician, but as a person. Starting from the first track, the songs all echo themes of hope, but also have more complex arrangements with additional instruments and melodies. It’s still the Colbie from “Bubbly,” but with the extra experience a couple of years brings.

[amazon-product]B002DHSGVI[/amazon-product]Unfortunately, the tracks of the album start to all sound the same after you’ve heard three or four. Caillat has managed to pull together a set of songs that all fade into the background quickly. She’s a beautiful girl and has a wonderful, breathy quality to her voice. But I never heard the “Breakthrough” I thought the album title was suggesting.

If you liked the tracks from Coco, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy Breakthrough as well. Unfortunately there isn’t enough crunch here to set this album apart from most of the other recent sound-alike pop performers on the radio these days.

That said, there are some good tracks on the album. I think “I Won’t” starts off the album in a great way. It has a bit more power to it, with its drum beats driving throughout. Falling in love with a good friend has its pitfalls. But sometimes you have to take that leap. As she says in the song “…I say you lose when you give up what you love / And I’ve lived my life without you long enough.”

Though “Fallin’ For You” has a theme that we’ve seen again and again, I have to admit that the video with Caillat and Saturday Night Live cast member Bobby Boynihan is a lot of fun. There’s something about the fool getting the girl that I can definitely identify with. You can see the video at YouTube here.

And “I Never Told You” is about missing the opportunity to tell him how she felt about him, and now he’s gone. It’s a story we’ve heard before, but her lyrics sum up that hole you step into at the end of a relationship – “I see your blue eyes / everytime I close mine / you make it hard to see / where I belong to / when I’m not around you / it’s like I’m not with me.” When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, it’s hard to find yourself again when it’s done.

Breakthrough is a good album, but there are no surprises here from Colbie Caillat. I was hoping for more risks and a few different styles or sounds from an album titled “breakthrough,” but didn’t get them. If you’re a fan of Caillat’s album Coco, you’ll probably enjoy Breakthrough. But I hope that when her next album comes around, she takes some chances to break out of her comfort zone.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up Breakthrough and Coco from Amazon below:

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Music Review: Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming by Sara Lov

Hey all…

In January 2009, Sara Lov released her first album with Nettwerk. The Young Eyes EP introduced the rest of the world to her unique style. Until recently she was part of the band Devics, a popular group in the UK. Stepping out on her own to release her solo work is a bit scary, but she’s taking it in stride. “I learn every day and doing scary things makes me grow,” Lov says.

Her EP included five songs, two of which also made it onto her full-length album released this month. Lov’s songs are simple and weightless, yet infused with a depth most first time solo artists can rarely reach. Her voice embodies a pure sentiment in its sometimes shaky lilt as it lifts the listener through the stories woven into each tune.

So now in March 2009, Lov releases her first full-length album titled Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming and you can tell her confidence continues to build as a solo artist. The arrangements continue to grow as she adds layers of instruments such as cello, ukulele, pump organ, and celesta to support her already distinct voice.

Produced by Zac Rae (Fiona Apple, Annie Lennox, My Brightest Diamond) and mixed by Darrell Thorp (Radiohead, Beck), Lov is joined by cameos on the album from Alex Brown Church (Sea Wolf) and Solon Bixler (Great Northern) as she weaves her tales of innocence and the idealism of youth. We all know that as we get older it becomes harder and harder to see things with “new” eyes and Lov tries to recapture some of that innocence in her lyrics and music.

With each song, she weaves a narrative that can be interpreted many ways. I think that allows the listener a chance to filter the music and words with their own thoughts and memories and make it their own experience. Poetry is like that. It’s a performance captured on paper that can be experienced again and again in different ways because you’re never the same as the last time you read it. Lov’s lyrics hit me in that way.

“Just Beneath the Chords” starts Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming with an interesting twist, using the senses to tell a story I don’t quite now how to interpret. Each time I listen and read the lyrics I come up with a different interpretation. I think iIt’s a cautionary tale about how you can’t ever really know something until you experience it. Lov sings “now the star that shines us / it burns and blinds us / wherever we move / notice how you love the blindness / the burn reminds you / that you can feel too”. An experiential poem if ever there was one, as you listen with your ears and the song talks about your other senses along the way.

One of my favorites on the album has to be “New York,” which is a tale of friends parting and finding it tough to find common ground… “we spoke of the long ago / promised each other we’d never get old / but that was a whole life ago / and now I’m on my own…” The piano and acoustic guitar create an almost haunting feel to this song as though it’s full of ghosts. The video for “New York” has been uploaded to YouTube and it’s one of the most interesting music videos I’ve seen in recent memory, reminding me of some of the early days of MTV with Peter Gabriel and Dire Straits. (You can see it yourself here.)

My other favorite on the album is “Animals,” which Lov describes as a breakup song. Though I’m not sure I agree, it’s definitely about a dysfunctional relationship… “I should have never let you in to me / but I never never learned to swim / until you came around and pushed me in”… It’s a duet between Sara Lov and Alex Brown Church with simple, happy guitar picking in the background as they debate what kind of animal they are to treat each other as they do.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the intriguing art of the album itself, which is used to great effect in the video for “New York” mentioned earlier. Colorful, simple drawings reinforce the fact that the album is about innocence.

For an artist new to solo work, I must say that Lov has it down from the start. Most seasoned solo artists would dream of a first album like Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming. Nettwerk has another winner to add to their impressive retinue of artists.

Be sure to check this one out at your local music store or online.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick the EP and album up at Amazon!

The Young Eyes EP

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YouTube Gone Wild Makes Some Jammin’ Music…

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Image via CrunchBase

Hey all…

This is too good not to share. I saw this on Very Short List today. (If you don’t know about VSL, be sure to check out their site. You get cool new things to think about, see, and listen to every day in your e-mail.)

YouTube is this amazing conglomeration of videos from all over the world of all types, sizes, styles, talents, and so on… So some folks have taken it upon themselves to create these amazing mashups of videos to create whole new compositions…

Kutiman, an Israeli musician, has done this to amazing effect.

Check out his stuff here. If you like music and are fascinated by the new media storming the world as I am, this is for you.

Thanks VSL!

–Fitz

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