Review: Brooke White - High Hopes & Heartbreak

A look at Brooke White's post-Idle debut High Hopes & Heartbreak. Should you give it a chance or leave it alone?
  |   Comments

Brooke White High Hopes & HeartbreakIn 2008, America fell in love with Brooke White. She was a shy, humble girl from Arizona who came in with a soft sweet voice that made you melt every time she took the stage. Brooke finished sixth in Season 7 of American Idol after Neil Diamond week, and it took over a year before she finally released her debut album High Hopes & Heartbreak. The album sold 10,000 copies in it's first week of release and made it to #50 on the Billboard Top 200 list but to date she has only sold a small number of albums (by American Idol standards) with about 30,000 units. So let's take a look at Brooke's debut and see if the album warrants more sales that it has gotten.

The album opens up with the lead single from High Hopes & Heartbreak, "Radio Radio." I admit when I first listened to it I wondered what was going on, but as the song kept going I found myself really getting into it. The music has a nice groove and White's lyrics are fantastic. "I've been wide awake waiting up all night. Waiting for a song that will make me feel alright." Who hasn't done this? Right away you can relate to Brooke and that is a great thing to give your audience in a song. People will get into a song more if they have experienced what the author has, and White hits on something most all music lovers have experienced at least once in their lives. The peppy nature of the song is also a good way to kick off an album and showcase Brooke White's musical talents.

The album slows down for a beautifully sad tune called "Hold Up My Heart" which tells of a girl's struggles to figure out where things went wrong in her relationship. It shows some insecurity asking "is it because I'm not as pretty as I used to be" when wanting to know why her lover's love has run away from her. Brooke captures perfectly the reaction many of us have when the one we love has started distancing themselves from us. This is another strong song both musically and lyrically.

"Out of the Ashes" is a sweet piano song keeping the theme of broken relationships going. This one focuses on trying to heal the damage done and trying to put the pieces back together again. What I really like about this song is the maracas and bongos used for percussion. It's a nice change and a very pretty song.  "Phoenix" has a solid '60s/'70s vibe that feels like Stevie Nicks meets the Monkees, if that makes sense. Its also a nice change of pace from the relationship mode to a memory mode. She reminisces about her childhood and growing up in Phoenix, Arizona and how much she misses home. Vocally she sounds very much like Stevie Nicks here and I really like it.

"When We Were One" brings us back to the relationship theme with another pretty song. "When we were one I was complete. But now I'm only half woman that I used to be." Such strong words, but they once again hit home for many of us listening. This song really builds on a strong chorus and beautiful lyrics. Brooke then comes at us with a cover of the King's of Leon song "Use Somebody." It's a nice halfway point in the album and really a perfect choice for the flow of the album.

A haunting piano melody kicks off the next track titled "Smile" which again comes back to the relationship theme. This time Brooke talks about running away from the pain in order to forget. It's sung with a sad, haunting vocal that penetrates the heart and is another solid song.

Things pick up again on "Little Bird." It's another peppy song that features the maracas once again and I like the vibe it gives us. It's a nice spot for another pick me up. The title track is up next and what I like about this song is its optimism. It shows the ups and downs and stresses of the dating world. You go in with high hopes and get a bunch of heartbreaks. The song has a solid disco sound with sweet hi-hat play and a solid bass line.

"Sometimes Love" is a sweet song about figuring out the feelings you have for someone and the way people today just throw the word love around like it has no meaning. Brooke is telling us she doesn't use the word lightly and neither should we. It's a profound pop tune and I really applaud Brooke for taking on a subject such as the overuse of the word love in our vocabularies.

"California Song" is upbeat and recalls her time on American Idol and all the love she felt from all the fans that helped her get to where she is now. While this song isn't my favorite, it is a fun tune that gives you a look into how much life changes when you are pulled from normal life and given the world all of the sudden.

The album closes with "Be Careful," a mellow song that tells us a story of someone who seems insecure about the relationship she is in. It's a very nice song to close out the album both musically and lyrically.

If it's not obvious already, I am a big Brooke White fan and that may cloud my judgment a little but I really enjoy this. Taken as a whole it is a little heavy on the relationship/breakup theme, but each song is good in it's own way. Brooke has a gift of telling of heartbreaks and I think that having so many songs about heartbreak fit the title of the album well. Even though I am a big Brooke fan, I am going to recommend you go out and pick up a copy of High Hopes & Heartbreak and spin it. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with how good it really is.