Verve Forecast attempts to do what RCA couldn’t — sell some Katharine McPhee albums. Dropped by RCA after lackluster sales of her 2007 debut, the American Idol runner-up signed to Verve Forecast, a subsidiary of venerable jazz label Verve. But don’t confuse McPhee with any jazz legends. She’s got a decent enough voice with surprising range, but she doesn’t sing with the same emotion as the artists she tries to emulate.
The ballad “Surrender,” which she co-wrote with Ingrid Michaelson and Marshall Altman, doesn’t resonate, even though the piano arrangement is beautiful. The same goes for “Say Goodbye,” a gorgeous breakup song that features soaring strings. Produced by John Alagia (John Mayer, Jason Mraz), the music has a certain elegance to it that McPhee’s delivery just can’t match. She’s better at singing pop songs like the snappy “Lifetime” and the quirky bonus track, a cover of Melanie’s 1971 hit “Brand New Key,” which is the album’s best tune. — Jeff Niesel