EmptyHouse of Blues, West Hollywood
Thursday, Feb. 7
Too much, too soon?
MySpace success story Colbie Caillat might have played to a full house Thursday at the Sunset Strip House of Blues, but as an artist and performer, the likable California singer-songwriter isn't quite ready for the big time yet and really is still a coffeehouse act.
The daughter of Ken Caillat, engineer/co-producer of Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" and "Tusk," the 22-year-old's soft-rock style recalls female artists of the same late-'70s era, such as Karla Bonoff and Nicolette Larson.
Most of all, though, she came off as Sheryl Crow lite; in fact Caillat has a similar timbre and tone to her voice. She also has a sweet, girl-next-door small-townish, appeal -- even if that small town is Malibu.
The largely female, 20s-30s audience (with boyfriends or husbands in tow) did sing along with several songs, and Caillat seemed genuinely happy about that, flashing some big smiles. And while the midtempo-or-slower songs from her debut album "Coco" (Republic/Universal) were all warm and fuzzy, it eventually made for a sleepy one-hour set.
Her five-man backing band was skilled enough with lyrical fills here and there as she semi-danced and swayed about, not having much to do when not singing. Too often, her writing is underwhelming and generic, like the current ballad single "Realize," typical of a lot of MySpace singer-songwriters out there, really.
That's not to say she didn't have several good songs, including the gliding, bittersweet "Midnight Bottle" and hummable, skip-with-a-smile "Tailor Made," written for her sister and future brother-in-law. She was almost lively for the muted reggae styling of "Tied Down," with her songwriting partner, guitarist Justin Young, playing ukulele.
She was most comfortable strapping on an acoustic guitar to strum her breakout hit, the summertime-breezy "Bubbly," which has made her a female Jack Johnson of sorts.
An encore featured a slow take on the Rolling Stones' "Beast of Burden" that missed all the irony of the original. This variety of Colbie certainly is earnest and not cheesy in the least but does need to age.