Of all the ways to sample new music on the Internet, perhaps the biggest crap shoot is iTunes' "Free Single of the Week" feature. The weekly sampling of a new artist can range from straightforward pop to indie rock to hardcore metal.
When I first downloaded Colbie Caillat's "Bubbly," then, I was apprehensive. It didn't help the included album art, featuring the beautiful young girl and her guitar, suggested a saccharine, simple bit of bubble gum pop. It was a pleasure to see that the girl with the looks of a young pop princess has the musical sensibilities of a mellow singer-songwriter.
From its opening chords to the closing seconds, Caillat's debut album, Coco, is a confident, steady piece that confirms that categorization. Close your eyes as you listen to each song and you'll see the same thing: white sand and mai tais. Caillat's voice carries a slight smoky accent, nicely complimenting the largely acoustic treatment of the songs. The best showcase of the combination is "Feelings Show," in which Caillat reaches the upper levels of her range with sensual whispers.
Caillat's greatest asset on this album – her consistency – is also her most disappointing weakness. The songwriting, at times, is childishly predictable; some of the rhyming patterns are visible from miles away. The themes, though, are nicely matured, from chasing the pain of a bad relationship down with alcohol in "Midnight Bottle" to the disappointment of disintegrating love in "Battle." Hey, I said the themes were mature, not diverse.
In a first-time effort to share her music with the world, Caillat is unquestionably enjoyable as a singer and is decent as a songwriter. With some time, she could easily join Jack Johnson as a revered practician of tropical folk pop. For now, though, Coco remains a remarkably listenable album that will keep you thinking of summer long after the leaves have started to fall in your backyard.