McPhee began work on Unbroken in 2008. At the urging on Universal Music Group chairman Doug Morris, she traveled to Nashville several times to write with some of Music City's top songwriters. "It was a really great place for me to grow as a songwriter; see how it's done," she says. What emerged were tales of resilience, of being bowed but not broken by life's experiences. "There are a lot of dark stories. I see a lot of sadness in the world," she says with a shrug. "I don't always have a rosy picture of the world. That comes out in my music more than I would like it to." "How" faces taking charge in a suffocatingly dark time. "The lyric was just so meaningful in so many ways," McPhee says. "I had to be in a position where I said, 'This is my life'." The devastating, string-laced ballad "Say Goodbye," received its premiere when McPhee appeared on CSI: New York. Written about the pain that precedes an inevitable break up, "Say Goodbye," is "the slit your wrist song," McPhee says. (CSI: New York isn't her only acting credit; McPhee has appeared on Ugly Betty, also co-starred in the 2008 hit The House Bunny and has a lead role in the upcoming feature film You May Not Kiss the Bride). McPhee paired with producer John Alagia, best known for his work with John Mayer, Dave Matthews Band and Jason Mraz, to record Unbroken in studios throughout Los Angeles. "Part of John's charm was that he's just such a blast to hang out with," she says. "His contribution was really bringing in the right musicians and taking the vision to the right level."