I took a long bus trip recently and I was armed with Katharine McPhee’s new album ‘I Fall In Love Too Easily,’ and I was looking forward to listening to it. I really liked her enough in SMASH, though admittedly don’t really know much of her musical work outside of that. And I know she has matured so I thought this would be a good time for her to do a standards album. After all, didn’t she do well in Idol for singing ‘Over The Rainbow?’
But after the first spin, I was very disappointed in the album – mainly because of two words – vocal fry. I may sound ancient when I say this, but that is the worst vocal affectation in modern singing. Why McPhee would manipulate her husky soulful voice to clipped ‘aches,’ I have no idea, but yes i know the kids love it so what do I know. She knows how to make beautiful sounds with her voice otherwise, and frankly, she does that over lyric interpretation. But perhaps I was expecting too much from her. There are time where her renditions *almost* work – like in simpler songs like ‘All the Way,’ and ‘Who Can I Turn To’ (the latter is even close to beautiful) But on more intricate songs like ‘I Fall In Love Too Easily’ or ‘Blame It On My Youth,’ you can see how green (read: Clueless) she is with the lyrics. And when she tackles ‘I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,’ I just couldn’t help but scratch my head.
But Don Was’ pretty-packaging production wraps it all in quiet elegant arrangements (strings! let’s add more strings!) so it all goes down easy enough. I really do think there’s a good standards in McPhee, but perhaps not just yet. Maybe when she becomes the next ex Mrs. Foster?