Album Reviews

Colbie Caillat – Coco

(Island) UK release date: 15 September 2008


Anyone doubting the power of the Internet to propel any artist into the mainstream should pay close attention to the worldwide success of Colbie Caillat.

Only five years ago Caillat would have relied on radio stations to promote her music, hoping and praying for a lucky break from a sympathetic DJ. Through MySpace she was able to post songs online to gauge the popularity of her music, and it was not until she uploaded a song called Bubbly that her ratings began to soar.

By the end of 2006, Caillat had become one of the most popular unsigned artists on MySpace and she quickly landed a major label contract with Universal Republic. The catchy, sunny pop of Bubbly propelled the single into the US Top 5 and to the top of charts throughout the world.

Every chart that is but one, as Coco is only just receiving an official UK release. The summery pop charms that have won over the rest of the world are given their first airing just as our notoriously fickle weather is changing. Hell, even Jack Johnson‘s career suffered over here because of the vagaries of his release schedule.

Caillat’s strengths and weaknesses are apparent from the very first track, Oxygen. Her breathy, soulful vocals are reminiscent of our very own Joss Stone and Corinne Bailey Rae, and her phrasing is spot on throughout. Meanwhile, the music glides by in a serene soft rock shuffle that is tasteful and melodic but completely unmemorable.

Caillat’s lyrics are another stumbling block, with some of the rhyming schemes and observations straight out of the sixth form songwriting book. The ubiquitous Bubbly is one of the worst offenders, with the sexual suggestiveness of the lyric buried by trite references to “tingles in a silly place” and crinkled noses.

She occasionally reveals a more rounded songwriting talent, with the drinking song Midnight Bottle and the failed love ballad Battle both rising above the cloying sentiments that make tracks such as Tailor Made and Capri almost unlistenable.

On reflection, it is easy to see why Caillat has enjoyed major success in the USA. This album is the perfect fit for US radio; inoffensive and melodic acoustic pop will always go down a treat over there, and it is no surprise that Coco is co-produced by Caillat’s father Ken Caillat, who also had a hand in the recording of the soft rock masterpiece that is Fleetwood Mac‘s Rumours.

But the UK is an altogether different beast, and even the average supermarket music buyer will be cynical enough to overlook this glossy, utterly soulless album.


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