Since her debut in 2007, Colbie Caillat has come to epitomize the carefree style often associated with Southern California artists. Her simple guitar, soft voice and unabashedly romantic lyrics make her a favorite among teenage girls, and over the last several years, Caillat (pronounced “cah-LAY”) has learned how to play to her audience and polish her style while still retaining the charm that has made her a Grammy Award-winning artist. With her third album, “All of You,” Caillat takes yet another leap forward, refining her sound to compose the quintessential summertime album.
“All of You” is more “produced” than Caillat’s former albums, featuring a more upbeat sound and more musical complexity than the simple, lazy strum of a guitar. In most pieces, this works to her advantage. For instance, the title track, “All Of You,” epitomizes the simple, signature style of Caillat’s first album: guitar-driven and romantic. However, the addition of a gentle piano tinkle and a quicker pace than that of her first single, “Bubbly,” turn a good song into a great one. Caillat’s growth is also evident in her more mature lyrics – both here and throughout the album – as she candidly speaks about both the triumphs and the fears of a normal relationship.
However, in a couple spots, Caillat’s sleekness weighs her down. For instance, the second single from the album, “Brighter Than The Sun,” features Caillat attempting to make her style a little more 2011-radio-friendly but losing in the process the perfectly controlled vocals she is so well known for. Her replacement sound, a somewhat robotic-sounding voice, makes “Brighter Than The Sun” one of those songs that gets irritating after about five listens, with only a chorus to salvage the track. In contrast, but with no better a result, “Favorite Song” has Caillat almost yelling during the grating chorus and, along with an unbelievably underwhelming contribution from rapper Common, seems out of place in the album.
Where Caillat slips up, though, her lyrical brilliance saves her: she proves to be immensely adept with her metaphors. Her style is reminiscent of Taylor Swift, yet her target audience and her style are much more mature – possibly because Caillat, at 26, is at a different place in her life than Swift. Whereas Swift prefers singing of the fresh perfection of a new relationship, Caillat follows an old one, from the uncertainty and instability of the bad times (“All of You”) to a perspective far into the future (“I Do,” the album’s first single), making her relate to a broader group of listeners.
In the end, Caillat’s strengths win out as she delivers an album worth several listens. “All of You” expresses her lightheartedness in a shiny, new package, capturing the beauty of bright California sunshine in 12 breezy songs.