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Classic love songs define key moments in life.
They can immediately evoke a warm embrace or conjure the memory of an unforgettable evening. Like a fine wine, these tunes only get better with age as they’re handed down from generation to generation. Award-winning and gold-selling singer, actress, performer, philanthropist, and American Idol Season 5 breakout star Katharine McPhee reimagines, recharges, and reinvigorates a host of timeless jazz standards on her fifth full-length, I Fall In Love Too Easily [BMG].
“I wanted to do a record people could make out to,” she smiles. “It’s the most romantic music in the world. All of the songs tell stories. That’s why I love them so much.”
From humming “torchy numbers” around the house as a child to Cabaret gigs in high school, McPhee has possessed a lifelong passion for the American Songbook. However, a seminal performance ignited what would become Fall In Love Too Easily. As part of the 2015 Sinatra 100: An All-Star GRAMMY® Concert on CBS, she joined John Legend for the opening medley—“You Make Me Feel So Young,” “My Kind Of Town,” and “You And Me (We Wanted It All)”. Her show-stopping presence and powerhouse voice captivated and inspired a key member of the program’s production team: iconic GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Don Was [Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt].
“After I got off stage, Don came up to me and said, ‘I really want to make a record with you’,” she recalls. “I was obviously ecstatic, because he’s a legend. We just had this really incredible bond from the jump.”
Capitalizing on that chemistry, the two entered the famed Capitol Recording Studios in 2016. With veteran engineer and 20-time GRAMMY® Award winner Al Schmitt behind the board, I Fall In Love Too Easily unfolded with the right mixture of classic panache and modern power.
“I was always thrilled even just to walk into the studio,” she goes on. “How could you not be excited to go into Capitol and sit in Frank Sinatra’s chair and record? There was this amazing energy. It was a very easy and natural experience. I think I’ve grown the most as a live performer. It felt good to make something vibe-y for young and old lovers. As far as recording goes, we focused on the delivery being conversational. It was about communicating these stories today.”
Among many highlights, she imparts delicate sensitivity upon Nina Simone’s “Everything Must Change.” For nearly a decade, McPhee has regularly performed the tune live, but she finally recorded it here. On the track, solo piano resounds before orchestral strings entwine with her impassioned, impressive, and inimitable vocals.
“The first time I heard it was right after my parents’ divorce,” she admits. “No matter how old you are, that changes life. It’s difficult. I remember sitting in my bed, and Nina Simone came on. Tears started coming down. Ever since then, I’ve been singing ‘Everything Must Change’ live at all of my concerts. It’s so easy to connect to the lyrics as they really explain how life can be at certain stages.”
Meanwhile, she artfully merges the Nat King Cole favorite “Blame It On My Youth” with Sinatra’s “You Make Me Feel So Young,” adding a spirited spark to the harmonies over rich production.
“‘Blame It On My Youth’ is such an innocent one,” she continues. “Youth is a big theme for me. That idea carries through ‘You Make Me Feel So Young’. These are songs I’ve been singing forever. I felt like I found my place. I can sing this music for the rest of my life.”
Powered by McPhee’s voice, Chet Baker’s “I Fall In Love Too Easily” spotlights the expanse of her range. The title itself speaks to her on a personal level.
“I’ve had my eye on ‘I Fall In Love Too Easily’ for a long time,” she says. “It’s one I’ve wanted to record forever. I really connected to the title, because it’s definitely a theme in my life. I suppose I’m a hopeless romantic!”
By nodding to her roots and honing her experience, I Fall In Love Too Easily brings McPhee full circle as an artist and a performer. Audiences first fell under the chanteuse’s spell during a storied run on American Idol Season 5 in 2006. Propelled by the smash “Over It,” her 2007 self-titled debut bowed at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 and achieved an RIAA gold certification. 2010 saw her return with not one, but two records—Unbroken and Christmas is the Time To Say I Love You. Simultaneously, she became a force on the big and small screens. She co-starred alongside Debra Messing on Smash from executive producer Steven Spielberg as well as guest spots on CSI: NY, Community, Family Guy, and more. Meanwhile, she starred in various films. A sought-after performer, she has taken the stage for PBS specials such as Foster and Friends and Chris Botti In Boston. In addition, she’s an active spokesperson for buildOn. Between starring in the CBS drama Scorpion (now in its fourth season with McPhee in a high-profile lead role), the songstress released 2015’s Hysteria to overwhelming fan praise.
However, McPhee comes home on I Fall In Love Too Easily.
“I was always meant to do this,” she leaves off. “When people hear it, I hope they recognize that innocence of love. Love is always good, but it can take left and right turns. It can get you into trouble or can bring you back on track. If you’re searching for love, it’s from a naïve and innocent place. The older you get, the wiser you are. It’s so beautiful. That’s what I want you to feel on this album.”