The second long-player from Christina Perri, the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter responsible for penning the surprise 2010 hit "Jar of Hearts," Head or Heart picks right up where 2011's rushed yet brimming-with-potential Lovestrong left off. More confident than her debut, yet retaining much of its vulnerability, Perri, along with a quartet of producers who include Martin Johnson, Jake Gosling, John Hill, and Butch Walker, explores familiar singer/songwriter themes with a keen pop ear, wrapping big, radio-ready choruses inside folksy verses, effectively bridging the gap between the laid-back folk-pop of a Jewel or Norah Jones and the slick, American Idol montage-ready showboating of a Katy Perry or Sara Bareilles. Case in point, the dreamy "Human" (the album's first single), a slow-building, heavy-hearted power ballad that imbues classic, coffeehouse-approved, confessional singer/songwriter tropes with an arm-waving chorus that's ripped straight out of the Kelly Clarkson playbook. To be more concise, Head or Heart works best when Perri leans harder to the pop side of the ship, as is the case on the soaring second single "Burning Gold," a percussion-heavy, tastefully stylized, Florence + the Machine-inspired empowerment anthem, and the bouncy and heartfelt "Be My Forever," the latter a duet with Ed Sheeran. The fact that almost all of these aforementioned songs are grouped together early on in the proceedings doesn't bode well for the album's back half, which is pleasant enough and consists of mostly piano-based odes to love both gained and lost. They lack much of the spark that propels the record's inaugural moments, but Perri has become such a pro at selling even the slightest of ideas that they never feel phoned in.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger