Colbie Caillat’s music is so banal and nondescript that even the most lovesick listener will be hard-pressed to feel moved. Nearly every song on her sophomore effort, Breakthrough, is nauseatingly bouncy, accompanied by lyrics so generic they’re not even worth quoting. In the liner notes, the Malibu, California singer-songwriter says the album is “about becoming the person you want to be, having will power and letting nothing hold you back. So try not to let great things pass you by, start making things happen that you really want in life!” She makes Jewel seem like a modern-day philosopher. Once again, Caillat’s famous dad, Fleetwood Mac producer Ken Caillat, is on the boards for most of the album, but this time around he’s thankfully joined by a handful of more modern writers and producers, including John Shanks. Freshman American Idol judge Kara Dioguardi deserves some credit for helping Caillat deliver one of her most emotive performances to date on the melancholy “I Never Told You”; on any other record, the song would be easily tagged as mediocre filler, but here it’s an album highlight. Katy Perry producer Greg Wells manages to give “Fearless” a pulse (albeit a synthetic one), while veteran songwriter Rick Nowels boosts the softly rollicking “Runnin’ Around” with a whopping three keyboard players and four guitarists. To the extent that the production and arrangements mask Caillat’s inadequacies as a writer and performer Breakthrough is a marginal improvement over her debut, Coco. At the very least, there’s nothing as stomach-turning as “Bubbly” here, so by that measure, the album lives up to its title.
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