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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Brooke White CD Review: A Breezy, Pleasant Surprise

In today’s musical climate of hip-hop beats and naughty lyrics, it’s easy to wonder what happened to the breezy pop songs of yesteryear.

Well I’m happy to report that I’ve found them on Brooke White’s new CD “High Hopes & Heartbreak.” And I mean that as a big compliment…

Now, before I get too deep into my review, I have to say that I’m as surprised as anyone to be a fan of this CD. Breezy pop has never been my thing. I’ve never been a fan of Carly Simon, Carole King or James Taylor, who are all influences here. But there’s just something so infectious about the songs on “Hopes” that I just can’t help myself…

The CD starts out with the uber-catchy current single, “Radio Radio,” followed by the song Brooke debuted on “American Idol” last season, “Hold Up My Heart,” which comes off much better here. “Out of the Ashes” and “Phoenix” both sound like they came directly from a Simon or Taylor album. And just try to not sing along with the catchy chorus of “California Song.”

Brooke also shows she can switch on the emotion with “When We Were One,” “Sometimes Love” and the gorgeous “Smile.”

The real surprise here, though, is Brooke’s version of the Kings of Leon song, “Use Somebody.” In Brooke’s hands the song takes on a totally different tone as Brooke gives it a real sense of vulnerability.

I would say the only misstep on the CD is when Brooke tries to do something different and adds a slight disco sound to “High Hopes & Heartbreak.” With a more stripped down sound the song might have worked…

If I had to sum up the album in one word, I would probably say pure. In fact, the sound is so pure that at times Brooke’s voice slightly betrays her. But in today’s world of Auto-Tune and vocoders, I find the raw sound pretty refreshing.

Kudos to Randy Jackson, the album’s executive producer (and Brooke’s co-manager), for giving us Brooke as she is and not trying to turn her into something she isn’t (Brooke co-wrote much of the CD.). Clearly, he was missing that pure pop sound as well. Maybe I don’t give him nearly as much credit as I should…

If you’re a fan of Brooke White, you’ll love the CD. But if you would just like to have a little break from the relentless beats of today’s music, you should give this one a try. Even if you weren’t a fan of Brooke’s on the show, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. I know I was…

“High Hopes & Heartbreak” is available now exclusively on iTunes. It will hit stores and all other digital outlets Tuesday, June 21st…

I'll have more from Brooke later this week...

Photo Credit: June Baby Records