Album Review: Colbie Caillat, “Coco” (2007)

I’ve never seen some of my favourite bands in concert, but I’ve happened to see Colbie Caillat in concert twice. Both times were coincidental- she just happened to be touring with my favourite artists; once, she opened for John Mayer, and another time, she shared the bill with Howie Day. Anyway, the point is that Colbie Caillat, though not necessarily one of my favourites, is someone I’ve seen in concert multiple times. I feel like an accidental groupie, particularly since I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a fan of hers.

Don’t get me wrong, though, Caillat’s music is decent enough. The singer-songwriter actually got her start on Myspace, where she first posted some of her original songs. This eventually garnered her enough attention for a record deal. She released her debut, Coco, in 2007, and the album is a collection of breezy, guitar-based, folk/pop songs. Though Caillat’s music isn’t really anything revolutionary, Coco is still a listenable album.

The first song, Oxygen, isn’t much else than a bouncy little pop song, though Caillat’s warm tone is enjoyable. Songs like The Little Things and One Fine Wire are decent pop/light-rock fluff- the sort of thing you’d hear on the Adult Contemporary station and bob your head to while driving in your car, but nothing you’d likely seek out on your accord.

Caillat’s trademark song, Bubbly, is the stand-out track on the album, mostly due to the catchy chorus (“It starts in my toes/And I crinkle my nose/Wherever it goes/I always know/That you make me smile/Please stay for a while now/Just take your time/Wherever you go”), and simplistic acoustic guitar sound. This song was pretty inescapable around the time it was released, and even though it was greatly overplayed, I still find myself humming it from time to time. Feelings Show continues the happy-go-lucky feeling of being in love, with another memorable chorus (“Love is crazy/Pretty baby/Take it real slow/My feelings show/All you have to do/Is never ever let go/My feelings show”), and more acoustic guitar work.

Realize was the second single from the album, and was another one that got a lot of radio play. I was never a fan of the irritatingly repetitive chorus (“If you just realize what I just realized/Then we’d be perfect for each other/And we’ll never find another/Just realize what I just realized/We’d never have to wonder if/We missed out on each other now”), but the acoustic ballad is a nice change of pace from the upbeat numbers, and Caillat’s voice is pleasant as always.

Colbie Caillat playing in Paradiso, Amsterdam 02

Most of the other tracks are okay, though barely distinguishable once you listen to them back to back. Midtempo number, Midnight Bottle, begins promisingly with a sort of tropical sound, before fading into the kind of background music you’d hear in a dentist’s office. Battle is another ballad, but is nowhere near as ferocious as its title suggests; in fact, it’s a battle of sorts to get through the song without becoming bored. Both Tailor Made and Magic are the standard kind of thing you’d imagine hearing on a singer-songwriter’s album- generic acoustic guitar melodies, soft vocals, and lyrics about being in love. Out of all the filler tracks, I’d probably classify Tied Down as my favourite- the tropical/island sound has returned (likely due to the fact that Caillat has switched out her guitar for a ukulele) and the fast-paced delivery in the choruses is fun.

The album comes to a close with emotional ballad, Capri. When this album came out, my friend, Olivia, put this song on for me and said it had changed her life. I listened to the track, and while I thought Caillat sounded beautiful on the ballad and the lyrics were sweet (“She’s got a baby inside/And holds her belly tight/All through the night/Just so she knows/She’s sleeping so/Safely to keep/Her growing”), there was nothing life-changing about it. At most, the track is endearing, but also verges on being a bit too saccharine. I’m still not sure why Olivia thought it was so life-changing (particularly since we were both 19 and hadn’t had children or even dreamed about having any yet, and therefore couldn’t quite identify with the song’s meaning) – I can’t say there are many songs that I’ve felt that way about it, and when I have, I usually can’t contribute the songs to coming from Top 40 artists- but different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

To say that Colbie Caillat‘s debut album is a “must-have” would be a huge exaggeration. At most, Coco is a decent collection of acoustic pop music that’s suitable for background music. The standout songs are probably the same ones you’ve already heard on the radio a million times, so unless you’re a big fan of this genre or Caillat, in particular (whom, by the way, puts on a pretty decent live show; at least, she sounds really good live and is quite a good guitar player), this album is likely something you’d be okay without ever owning.

Rating: 3_stars.svg

Track List
1. Oxygen
2. The Little Things
3. One Fine Wire
4. Bubbly
5. Feelings Show
6. Midnight Bottle
7. Realize
8. Battle
9. Tailor Made
10. Magic
11. Tied Down
12. Capri

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWGqoCNbsvM]
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