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Customer Reviews

McPhee finds her true voice on 'Unbroken'

After a period of uncertainty as to the direction she would take her career in, Katharine McPhee wisely opts for an adult-contemporary direction on her sophomore release ‘Unbroken’ (Jan. 5). McPhee, who has made great strides in maturing as an artist over the past few years, gets a great deal of help from an excellent team of songwriters that play a major role in the quality of the material found on this album.

Under the guidance of producer John Alagia (Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer), ‘Unbroken’ begins on a high note with light mid-tempo “It’s Not Right,” which includes all the right ingredients for a Hot AC hit. A catchy chorus is only partly responsible for the positive vibes, though, as McPhee does a solid job making somewhat dim lyrics sound upbeat.

The album’s first single, “Had It All,” is the perfect follow-up in the No. 2 slot because it combines minimal production with simple lyrics courtesy of veteran songwriters Kara DioGuardi, Mitch Allan and David Hodges.

“Terrified” is a great example of how well McPhee’s vocals blend on a duet, as she gets a little help from Jason Reeves on the Colbie Caillat-esque track. Both voices complement each other, and even though Reeves is more of a background presence, he still gives the song a feeling of completion. On “Surrender,” McPhee shows that she can lend her vocals to a blues-leaning ballad without coming off as insincere.

The album’s weakest song is “Faultline,” which is not terrible in its own right, but it gets lost in the shuffle in its latter half. Although McPhee is able to demonstrate her keen sense of inflections, the song never really goes anywhere and could have been helped greatly if it had added more intense instrumentation, possibly a soft-rock feel.

One of the most solid songs on ‘Unbroken’ comes in the form of “How,” a moving power ballad that allows McPhee to reach for the heavens with her beautiful use of melisma. The rousing chorus combines with a pop-leaning arrangement, making the song a perfect candidate for a future single.

The album’s strongest track is without a doubt “Say Goodbye.” This is where McPhee shines not just as a vocalist, but as a storyteller as well, and they manner in which she demonstrates vocal restraint is commendable. Also on the ballad front, title track “Unbroken” requires use of McPhee’s upper register, which she faithfully follows through on. The solemn, vulnerable arrangement magnifies the tenderness explored in the lyrics, partially the product of Paula Cole, and leaves the listener feeling the emotion conveyed in the song.

One of the strongest aspects of ‘Unbroken’ is the leverage McPhee was given in terms of songwriting, as she is credited on six of the album’s 13 tracks. On “Last Letter,” she teams up with Luke Laird (Carrie Underwood, ) and Barry Bean to produce a radio-friendly mid-tempo that features catchy lyrics (“It’s the very last letter / to an old lover / to say I’m glad”). “Keep Drivin” finds McPhee’s vocals paired with top-notch production, resulting in a convincing performance as told through the song’s gloomy lyrics.

Other songwriting efforts by McPhee include the breezy “Lifetime” and the sleepy “Anybody’s Heart.” The former is a sing-songy piece that will most likely be heard at wedding receptions for years to come, while the latter is gently sung but is rather forgettable in comparison with the rest of the tracks. Still, the lyrics found here are above average, which bodes well for McPhee’s future as a songwriter.

To close out the album McPhee offers “Brand New Key,” a flimsy, R&B-tinged cover of the Melanie Safka song that is a great upbeat way to end on. The silly lyrics (“I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates and you’ve got a brand new key / I think that we should get together and try them on you see”) are completely in sync with the rest of the song, and McPhee’s falsetto adds special flair to the recording.

Now that Katharine McPhee finally gets the chance to show audiences her true artistic ability, she takes the opportunity and runs with it. Unbroken is a rare diamond in the rough collection of adult contemporary/pop material, and the fact that McPhee has one of the most technically-impressive voices in the music industry at the moment will only further cement her footprint in the genre.

I DARE you to find a weak song this time around...

Ladies and gentlemen, there's not much I can say other than this album is incredible! So rare to find such an amazingly talented singer who happens to be drop dead gorgeous AND humble. In my opinion, the most refined voice to ever come out of Idol. I dare you to find something bad to say about this record, cuz it just isn't possible. Whoever has slept on Katharine Mcphee better wake up quick...Amazing job Katharine

Fantastic new release!

I am so thrilled that this album is finally available. I was getting aggravated by the many "Singles" being released instead of the entire album.

This album certainly did not disappoint!


Born: March 25, 1984 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Though Taylor Hicks' quirky soulfulness made him 2006's American Idol, runner-up Katharine McPhee's classic good looks and voice, and her affinity for traditional pop, made her a strong contender throughout the season. In fact, she was one of the first semi-finalists to make it to the final 12. A native of Sherman Oaks, California, McPhee began singing at age two. Her mother, Patricia McPhee, is an established singer in her own right, performing and recording as Peisha McPhee. She helped Katharine...
Full Bio
Unbroken (Bonus Track Version), Katharine McPhee
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  • $6.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music
  • Released: Jan 05, 2010

Customer Ratings