Following up her pop/R&B self-titled debut, the typically long, dark haired Katharine McPhee returns with a fresh short, blonde 'do & singer-songwriter, adult contemporary sound on Unbroken. Known from her Idol days as the "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" songstress, this new direction isn't exactly shocking for Kat. For those who are fond of her debut LP however, Unbroken may or may not be for you, but rest assured, that signature voice is still intact.
The album starts off pretty well with midtempo "It's Not Right." This leads into the first single "Had It All," which I must admit never really connected with me. Katharine offers up quite a solid track though in the form of "Keep Drivin'," a ballad that musically expresses its lyrics well. I'm not terribly fond of "Last Letter" however, being that there are even times when the vocals are out of tune.
Unbroken's middle section may have needed a little fixing after all--& it doesn't stop there. "Surrender" is mediocre at best (& forgettable, as I had to back the album up while still listening to it to remember how this song goes), while "Terrified" finds Kat unfortunately not blending well with her duet partner Jason Reeves much at all. "How" is only slightly better, but the album really gets going again with its best track, the gorgeous "Say Goodbye." Katharine is really in her zone here & I wish there were more songs like this on the album.
I don't really care for "Faultline," nor the marginally improved "Anybody's Heart." Have no fear though because the album's final three songs include some of its best material. Midtempo "Lifetime" was one of a few digital singles released in advance of Unbroken (as was "Say Goodbye") & they proved to be some of the album's highlights. The title track "Unbroken" isn't amazing, but it is a nice ballad. The album ends well with a cover of "Brand New Key," a fun song that brings some much-needed life into the project.
One thing I want to stress is that I am fine with Katharine's new sound. I enjoyed the songs she sang on Idol that would've fit right in on Unbroken. I do think, however, that she hasn't perfected the sound she's currently going for. Some people might think she's a little closer to where she wants to be than I do & you can blame that on the fact that it makes me gag anytime I hear an artist described as 'singer-songwriter.' I'm also not going to act as if I didn't like her debut & that I don't think it's better than this album. Nonetheless, Unbroken has some good material on it & is a nice album to sit back & chill to.
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
UPDATE: To help clarify what I would've rather seen on this album in case some of Kat's fans would like to know, where are the songs she supposedly recorded with David Foster? I want me some "I Will Be There With You"-type stuff! Heck, why isn't THAT song on the album..?