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Unbroken

4.3 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews

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Product Description

2010 release from the 25 year old runner-up in the fifth season of American Idol. On Unbroken the vocalist and actress has co-written half of the album with some of music's biggest songwriters, including Kara DioGuardi (American Idol), Ingrid Michaelson, and Paula Cole. 'Terrified' features a duet with Jason Reeves while Rachael Yamagata sings backup vocals on the song she co-wrote 'Keep Drivin'.' The album was produced by John Alagia (John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Dave Matthews Band).

About the Artist

Katharine McPhee warmly laughs as she confesses she's been in "artistic hiding" for the last few years. "It took me a long time to figure out where I wanted to go and be as an artist," she says. "I needed time to learn who I was as a musician." Once she discovered the answer, however, her path was sure and swift. On Unbroken, her Verve Records debut, listeners will discover a glorious side of McPhee previously untapped. Poignant, vital lyrics swell over full, lush melodies. McPhee's supple, clear voice, resonating with emotion and confidence, caresses each note on this collection of soon-to- be pop classics. Fans first met McPhee on Season Five of American Idol. The runner-up could seemingly sing any style of music, but especially mesmerized millions with her heart-stirring rendition of "Over the Rainbow." Her first solo album, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 in early 2007, only hinted at the extent of her talent--not only as a singer but as a songwriter--that Unbroken reveals. Unlike that first effort, McPhee co-wrote the majority of the songs on Unbroken, collaborating with fellow singer/songwriters Paula Cole, Ingrid Michaelson and Rachael Yamagata. "This record is definitely more personal to me," McPhee says. "I have more stories to tell. It's more of an artistic look at me as a person. Coming from a reality show, it's hard to know the depth of somebody. This record gave me that opportunity to show that. That's what Verve wanted from me: to make a record I was proud of. It was a huge blessing to give me that." Her vocals also display a new vulnerability and maturity that make Unbroken compelling listening. "I think I finally learned to breathe," McPhee says, both literally and figuratively. "I'm grounded in my own body; my voice was grounded. Having a big voice, I had to realize that singing high notes didn't equal artistry. This is more about how I can interpret a song, the nuances of singing." While sounding utterly contemporary, McPhee also drew from the tremendous voices that have guided her throughout her life ranging from Nina Simone to Sarah McLachlan. "I wanted some older influences on here," she says. "My mom is a cabaret singer; I grew up with the Great American Songbook. That's why I know all the standards, but I always had a want and a need for pop music." McPhee began work on Unbroken in 2008. At the urging on Universal Music Group chairman Doug Morris, she traveled to Nashville several times to write with some of Music City's top songwriters. "It was a really great place for me to grow as a songwriter; see how it's done," she says. What emerged were tales of resilience, of being bowed but not broken by life's experiences. "There are a lot of dark stories. I see a lot of sadness in the world," she says with a shrug. "I don't always have a rosy picture of the world. That comes out in my music more than I would like it to." "How" faces taking charge in a suffocatingly dark time. "The lyric was just so meaningful in so many ways," McPhee says. "I had to be in a position where I said, `This is my life'." The devastating, string-laced ballad "Say Goodbye," received its premiere when McPhee appeared on CSI: New York. Written about the pain that precedes an inevitable break up, "Say Goodbye," is "the slit your wrist song," McPhee says. (CSI: New York isn't her only acting credit; McPhee has appeared on Ugly Betty, also co-starred in the 2008 hit The House Bunny and has a lead role in the upcoming feature film You May Not Kiss the Bride). McPhee makes the driving first single, "Had It All," written by Kara Dioguardi, Mitch Allan and David Hodges, completely her own. The tune's upbeat melodies contrast the often downbeat lyrics of someone who appears to have lost it all: "The song represents a lot of stuff in some of our lives, looking back to the past," she says. "We can feel like we maybe made mistakes, but it all works out." But McPhee is far from a gloom merchant. "Lifeline" is decidedly upbeat. "Surrender," co-written with Michaelson, is ultimately a self-affirming call to love yourself as much as others do. The breathtaking title track, written with Cole, features one of McPhee's most stirring performances about coming through troubling times scarred but stronger. McPhee paired with producer John Alagia, best known for his work with John Mayer, Dave Matthews Band and Jason Mraz, to record Unbroken in studios throughout Los Angeles. "Part of John's charm was that he's just such a blast to hang out with," she says. "His contribution was really bringing in the right musicians and taking the vision to the right level." Among the top-flight players on Unbroken are drummer Victor Indrizzo, pianists Patrice Rushen and Billy Childs and guitarist extraordinaire Paul Jackson, Jr. The album's sole cover is the bonus track, McPhee's sprightly version of Melanie's 1971 hit, "Brand New Key." "I'd never heard that song in my life," she says. "It's so weird and so cute. People who really know me know that I'm a weird funny girl. I thought it was cute and good to have another fun song on the record." Along with her musical rebirth comes a stunning physical change: McPhee recently transformed from a long-haired brunette to a sultry blonde. "I've never done anything crazy like this," she says. "I didn't think I would cut my hair off or go this blonde, but I'm going through changes. Searching for lyrics and meaning in the record just sort of forced me to examine inside and out."
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 5, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Verve Forecast
  • ASIN: B002GNKTRI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,543 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By barry VINE VOICE on January 19, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Poor Katharine McPhee has never received the critical accolades she is so worthy of. She definitely deserved to win American Idol against Taylor Hicks. There was no comparison but Ms. McPhee is one of those women who is so beautiful on the outside that many people ignore the inside. She is lovely and beautiful indeed but many critics just think she has a simple pleasant voice and she possesses so much more. I love her new look and hairdo as she asks to have her vocals heard. I was one of those who did not love her debut cd. It was too poppish for me and didn't show off her great vocals and versatility.

A couple of years have passed and Katharine McPhee has grown up a lot. When I first heard this cd I didn't know what I thought and honestly would have given it 3 stars at that point. But after hearing it over and over I love it. There are no tracks here that are standout hits so you must listen to each track as its own. Most of the songs are ballads and only with the intense listening will you find the quality and versatility that is actually here.

It would have helped to have some uptempo tracks to break up the ballads so that they could have been appreciated more. Standouts of the ballads are SURRENDER, LAST LETTER, SAY GOODBYE and FAULTLINE. Interestingly my least favorite track is the title UNBROKEN. ANYBODY'S HEART has Katharine's vocals velvety like silk and DRIVIN and TERRIFIED are excellent displays of her vocals. The most uptempo here are poppish ballads LIFETIME, HAD IT ALL and the fun BRAND NEW KEY.

I still feel like Katharine McPhee has not been matched with the ultimate music to show her true artistry and versatitlity. Listen to her sing SOMEWHERE on the David Foster and Friends cd/dvd and you will see what she is capable of.
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Up until this past summer, when 2008 fifth-place finisher Brooke White released HIGH HOPES AND HEARTBREAK, I had overwhelmingly ignored practically every artist that was ever on "American Idol" that ever released an album. I just felt, and still largely do, that even as it tries to promote new talent, it also seems to promote the continued corporate approach to pop music of today. Brooke's album was the sole exception up to that point, a breezy bit of 1970s California-inspired pop.

In her wake, then, there is Katharine McPhee, who finished second to Taylor Hicks on "Idol" in 2006. I wasn't exactly high on her self-titled post-"Idol" 2007 album, thinking it sounded like everything else on today's adult contemporary and R&B radio. However, her second album, UNBROKEN, is a different sort of album from its predecessor. For while it still contains the AC and R&B elements of its predecessor, there is a noticeable emphasis, as there was on Brooke's album, on acoustic-influenced 1970s pop elements, like on "Lifetime", and the up-tempo "Had It All". Katharine also does a fairly good vocal workout on "Faultline" without resorting to the irritating melisma that seems to be part-and-parcel of far too many divas that will remain nameless. She gets able assistance, both in the writing and performing aspects of the songs, from people like Rachel Yamagata and veteran guitarist Mark Goldenberg, who worked with rock icon Linda Ronstadt thirty years before on her somewhat controversial but hugely successful 1980 new-wave rock album MAD LOVE. The big surprise in this collection, however, is Katharine's reggae-influenced cover of "Brand New Key", which had been a #1 hit for three weeks in the winter of 1971-72 for folk-pop songstress Melanie.
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Most of America - who fell in love with McPhee - especially after her OVER THE RAINBOW performance - were expecting something like this CD from KAT. Although, I loved the first CD, it was pretty much not what the collective fans of McPhee expected. Moving away from the overproduced modern day pop music, UNBROKEN showcases just how talented KAT is. She has the best voice to ever come out of American Idol, and it's a real shame most of the show's fans will never hear just how special she is. I feel if KAT had released a song along the lines of the the standouts (for me) on Unbroken...

SAY GOODBYE
HOW
KEEP DRIVIN'
SURRENDER
UNBROKEN
FAULTLINE
... There are so many, actually. Keep Drivin' and Unbroken are currently my MOST favorite!

... she would've been a huge success. People who watch McPhee on Idol didn't want another modern day pop artist... They wanted a beautiful / strong TALENTED vocalist singing pretty ballads. We DEFINITELY don't need anymore modern day "we can't really sing" pop artists. Thank you for a beautiful CD, Kat!
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The DVD is an outstanding, entertaining disc and the CD has some of the best of Katharine's work to date. She continues to improve all the time. Looking forward to her future works. We prefer DVD so we can enjoy the visual along with the sound.
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I don't watch much television; however, my wife and I watched the premeire episode of "Smash" and I fell in love with Katharine McPhee the minute I heard her sing "Beautiful!" This item contains both a CD and a companion DVD. The CD is great, I really like the music. The DVD is also very enjoyable and has some candid interview material that gives you a deeper perspective of Katharine McPhee as a person, and the music videos are great! I highly recommend "Unbroken: Deluxe Edition" and you'll probably also like Katharine's Freshman CD "Katharine McPhee" which is also very enjoyable.
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