NEW YORK (Billboard) - At first glance, Colbie Caillat seems like just another blond-haired, green-eyed, endlessly happy Southern California girl. A sunny veneer coats her songs -- like "Bubbly," her breakout single, and "Falling for You," which debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The latter track is the lead single from "Breakthrough," Caillat's second album (due Tuesday (August 25) on Universal Republic).
In between the hits, though, Caillat says life hasn't been all rosy. The 24-year-old pop singer-songwriter says she was caught off guard by the fast-track success of her 2007 album, "Coco," which has sold 2 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. She felt drained from nonstop traveling and cynical after an interview mentioned the backstage beer that her tour contract stipulates, upsetting her label.
"I was like, 'What am I allowed to say?'" she recalls. "I'm not a party girl or anything. Ever since then, I just kind of closed in."
So much so, that when it was time to start writing new material, the hits didn't keep on coming so easily. By last fall, Caillat had laid down a few tracks with her father, Ken Caillat, a veteran producer for Fleetwood Mac. But Universal Republic wasn't thrilled with the outcome and wanted outside producers to rework the tracks.
"I didn't agree with the label," she says. "But I did think it was important to try another producer and see how different the songs could sound."
Caillat went into the studio in November with songwriter/producer Rick Nowels, who co-wrote and co-produced "Falling for You" and two more songs on the album (and another two on the 18-track deluxe version). In early 2009, she finished the remaining tracks with help from Kara DioGuardi, John Shanks and Greg Wells, among others.
"Breakthrough" seldom reflects Caillat's post-"Coco" struggles; many of its tracks echo the cheerfulness of "Falling for You." But there are some gutsier tunes as well: On "Fearless," the album's potential third single, which features a piano breakdown not unlike the one in Elton John's "Benny and the Jets," Caillat sings from the perspective of her real-life ex-boyfriend, delivering lines like "Go on and break my heart."
Caillat shows off her hard-won new comfort level in the lighthearted music video for "Falling for You." In the Malloy Brothers-directed clip, the singer mingles with unlikely love interest Bobby Moynihan of "Saturday Night Live."
"My label and management were like, 'Dude, you need to show your fun side,'" Caillat says with a laugh. "I'm trying to allow myself to do that because people enjoy it more."
(Editing by SheriLinden at Reuters)
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