Home > Album Review, Music, Reviews > Album Review – ‘Unbroken’ by Katharine McPhee

Album Review – ‘Unbroken’ by Katharine McPhee

February 16, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I was watching the American Idol Season 9 Hollywood rounds, and was absolutely enchanted by contestant Didi Benami’s rendition of ‘Terrified’ on Day 1. She totally owned the song with her quirky rendition; I liked it so much that I decided to check the song out so I could download the original version. Well, it turned out to be one of the tracks off Season 5’s runner-up Katharine McPhee’s latest album ‘Unbroken‘. Okay, then, perfect timing to give this album a listen and figure out if it’s worth getting!

All in all, this sophomore effort by McPhee under Verve is loads better than her debut CD. This time around, she’s gone for an over-all singer-songwriter sound (and sounds so much like Mandy Moore on a lot of tracks!) – but there’s plenty of folksy, poppy and even r&B mixed in. The production works well with McPhee too, it’s not over-produced and doesn’t drown her out.

Okay, first thing – since it was the song that made me listen to the entire album in the first place – it kinda sucks for Katharine McPhee but Didi Benami’s acoustic interpretation of ‘Terrified‘ sounds better than the original. Somehow, a very pretty poppy tune that sounded kinda generic with McPhee morphed into this unique sounding song with Didi. Ouch, I know.

The best song in the album where I thought that Katharine was able to infuse a personal and unique interpretation was the very fun and upbeat country-ish number ‘Brand New Key‘ that features a very catchy soprano chorus. That’s my personal favorite from the album. ‘Lifetime‘ is also another fun & bouncy track that I really liked. For me, Katharine’s voice sounded the best (without being OTT) in these two songs and I really recommend them if you are only downloading one or two songs from the album. These two tracks brought me back to that fun Katharine McPhee I liked who sang Black Horse And Cherry Tree on American Idol.

Listen to “Brand New Key”

Maybe I just like Katharine singing the more uptempo songs, since I thought her album’s slow songs were pretty generic and forgettable (literally – I can’t even name them right now). Maybe the writing quality wasn’t up to par? Because if only in terms of voice quality, Katharine does have a very fine instrument – very smooth tone and pleasant to the ears. Just not very uniquely her and a bit bland, honestly; like if the songs were playing on radio, it wouldn’t jump out to me as ‘Hey that’s Katharine McPhee!’ The only exception among the ballads that stood out for me was ‘Surrender‘ which might make a good run on HAC if released to radio (I think). I don’t really see any more good radio singles from the album – so I’m not sure how this will sell in the long run.

Unbroken‘ by Katharine McPhee is available on Amazon as an Audio CD ($8.99) and as an MP3 album ($5.99 only!). It is also available on iTunes for $7.99.

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  1. pat
    February 16, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Didi is over-rated. Chrystal Bowersox was the best for the females and Andrew was the best for the males! Didi is over rated!

    • February 16, 2010 at 8:57 am

      That’s your opinion, and you’re entitled to it. Personally, didn’t see anything special with Andrew. Chrystal was really good, too, but as you can see, my post is about Katharine McPhee’s album so I didn’t mention her.

  2. ja
    March 12, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    yes. didi’s rendition of the song was like you say, enchanting and quirky (she made it her own in a very natural way, not put on) there was no acting out the song in a particular way, just non-pretentious, clean, straight from the heart singing. perhaps that’s what’s missing from mcphee’s rendition which, i think, aimed at technical interpretation more than simple singing.

    also didi’s lilting voice quality did more for the song rather than kat’s sonorous one. you want to listen to didi’s song renditions (rhiannon was super, lean on me despite the criticism) over and over.

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