Colbie Caillat's New Album Aims to Be More Upbeat

Singer on working with Babyface, OneRepublic for new songs

December 4, 2013 11:55 AM ET
Colbie Caillat
Colbie Caillat
Gregory Metcalf

Last summer, Colbie Caillat spent two months writing and recording at a rented beach house in Malibu she shared with friends, family and professional collaborators. She came away with 28 new songs and emerged feeling confident her fourth solo album was in tow. Then she kept writing.

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"It was a game-changer," the singer-songwriter tells Rolling Stone of the additional writing and recording sessions she participated in this past fall. She paired off with an esteemed crew of songwriters including Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds and OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder, with whom she co-wrote "Brighter Than the Sun" from 2011's All of You. The sessions were so fruitful, in fact, they completely changed the scope of her forthcoming, untitled new album.

Caillat describes the new music as "louder" and "more up-beat," which you can hear in the anthemic first single "Hold On," co-written with Tedder. "[That song] inspired the sound of the rest of the record," she says.

The singer plans to release it early next year. She admits she surprised even herself with her massive creative output this past year. "I didn't expect it, I'll tell you that," she says. "I was completely sold on what songs were [going to be] on the record. I don't know. . . that's what happens sometimes. You beat your old stuff."

Caillat's new album may still include some of the material she recorded during that time spent in Malibu – a set of songs she likens more to "Paul Simon, Seventies-ish classic rock with some folk twists to it," like the breezy road anthem "Cruising," as opposed to the newer, more pop-oriented material she crafted in its wake. Still, the musician makes no promises as to what songs will make the final tracklist.

What she is unwaveringly confident about, though, is the high quality of the material she's written and recorded in recent months on tour buses and studios from Miami to Atlanta and Hollywood. She's particularly excited about "Blaze," a radio-ready party song she hopes will be the album's next single: "We don't need a reason / To get lost and go wild," she sings over a jaunty hip-hop beat. Other standout tracks include a pair she wrote with Babyface: the somber "Just Like That" ("You broke my heart and I gave in / Every single time you pulled me in, you pushed me out again") and the swooning ballad "Try."

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"I had kind of pigeonholed [Babyface] into one specific genre," she admits. "Which is very stupid. And then when I wrote with him I realized, 'Wow, he can do anything!'"

Caillat kicks off a string of tour dates this week in Chicago, after which she plans to return to the studio to record five final songs that she says should complete the album. Given her recent track record, don't be surprised if she decides to crank out a few more numbers before it's all said and done.

"Right now we just want to put the best album out," she says, laughing. "I can't tell you what exactly it will be, because it changes every day!"

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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