Brooke White

High Hopes and Heartbreaks

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A large part of Brooke White's considerable charm on American Idol was how she was cheerfully, completely out of time -- a '70s relic hauled out of the back of an attic, dusted off, and cleaned up without regard for modernity. An element of this time warp remains on High Hopes and Heartbreaks, her second album and first of any profile, but she's shifted her timeline somewhat, adding some sass and sweetness learned from late-'70s Olivia Newton-John, inadvertently proving there's a big difference between Grease and Tapestry. It's a difference that gives High Hopes a vague feeling of putting on a show, a perhaps inevitable side-effect from being on a talent contest, one where she was judged on how she made a song her own, as she does here by imagining what would happen if Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" was performed by an America fronted by Carole King. America provides a frequent touchstone here -- their Harrison-esque slide guitars popping up all over the place, their "Ventura Highway" name-dropped just before Joni's Ladies of the Canyon -- and that's when White is at her best, creating a dreamy soft rock for a hazy, sunny afternoon. Of course, this is the sound White has always done best, both on American Idol and on her debut Songs from the Attic, and when she tries to break out of this sound she gets into some trouble, wearing the disco threads of the title track quite uncomfortably and getting caught in the molasses sludge of stately ballads. Fortunately, these moments don't happen all that often -- enough to notice but not enough to hamper the enjoyment of a sweet, likeable album that largely follows through on White's Idol promise.

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