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Co-Co’s’ latest only so-so

Jess Shaffer | Monday, November 19, 2007

If you have yet to hear Ms. Colbie Caillat’s pervasive hit, “Bubbly,” you must be wearing some heavy-duty earmuffs.

But seriously, though, if you’re oblivious to this chart topper you should probably consider rejoining the human race. This song is nearly impossible to avoid (at least if you engage in normal human activity). Whether you’re a blogger, Lifetime addict, or just your average radio listener, you’ve no doubt been inundated with Caillat’s serenading.

You don’t have to be “Top 20” addict to appreciate Caillat. And even if you don’t enjoy Britney Spears, Ashlee Simpson and the typical girl solo act, be assured that your venture into pop culture will not be a waste of your time. Caillat avoids the sometimes ridiculous female musician image, and instead opts for a sweet yet stylish sound wrapped in a down to earth package. She’s kind of the California girl-next-door of music: relaxed and real, if not sometimes a bit simplistic.

Her recent release, the self-titled, “Coco,” debuts her clear musical potential. Caillat seems to have won the musical lottery. That or she just has executed some seriously smart strategy to achieve her success. She has the typical story of girl finds music, decides to try her hand at singing, embraces the soul exploring power of song writing, and then has the Cinderella-esque discovery. But rather than debuting on “Mickey Mouse Club” or clawing her way to the top through ruthless commercialization, Caillat’s success is actually web based.

Her discovery results from the MySpace cultural phenomenon. Caillat’s decision to put her then unknown work on the site paid off. As of yesterday her MySpace site has had 14,175,936 hits. That type of popularity gave her songs the exposure it takes to break into the industry. Not to mention, having an already intact fan base, assuredly made her an intriguing prospect for what is now her label, Universal Republic. Organic talent plus bloggers apparently does yield an almost unprecedented rise to fame – a tantalizing ideal for any musician playing in relative obscurity. In fact, if you give her page a quick glance you’ll find a wall overwhelmed with cries of support from hundreds of struggling artists.

If anything, “Coco” is a commendable departure from pop culture norms and redundancy. Perhaps she will pick up where artists like Jack Johnson started, but “Coco” may not be the cd to do it. Caillat still has a long way to go in terms of musical maturity. While her style of charming and cheerful melodies is extremely catchy, lacks the sophistication to make true lasting classics. “Bubbly” may be exception to the rule, and is the solid high point of the album. Caillat makes the mistake of front-loading her Coco with tunes like “Oxygen,” “One Fine Wire” and “My Feelings Show.” She would have done well to conclude her CD with as much power and energy as she started it with. Songs like “Capri” disappoint compared to her earlier tracks.

In a break from her inexperienced repetitiveness, “Tied Down,” is Caillat’s attempt at musical experimentation. In this track she tacks advantage of her cool, fun vocals, coupling them with a ukulele instrumental. This winning combination is a path that Caillat would benefit from exploring more in the future. With tracks like this, her future in the music business looks bright indeed.

Though Colbie Caillat has a long way to go artistically, Coco is a promising start. Check out her album’s highlights. But unless you’re totally infatuated with this up and coming artist don’t rush out to purchase the entire album. And if you’re looking for a relaxing exam pick me up, Caillat’s better tracks are sure to satisfy the most stressed studier.