Piece by Piece

Studio Album by released in 2005
Piece by Piece's tracklist:
Shy Boy
Nine Million Bicycles
Piece by Piece
Halfway Up the Hindu Kush
Blues in the Night
Spider's Web
Blue Shoes
On the Road Again
Thankyou, Stars
Just Like Heaven
I Cried for You
I Do Believe in Love

Piece by Piece review

Plucked from music school obscurity by songwriter/producer Mike Batt, Katie Melua saw her debut bolt up the U.K. charts upon its release there in late 2003. Melua was born in Soviet Georgia in 1984. Eventually, she and her family moved to Belfast, Ireland, and finally to London, where Melua entered the B.R.I.T. School for the Performing Arts & Technology. The record industry-funded school had a habit of graduating talented performing artists (Floetry, for example), and Melua became its next success when a 2003 showcase caught the attention of Mike Batt, who'd been looking for a vocalist capable in both jazz and blues styles. Call Off the Search was issued in the U.K. in November 2003. A comfortable, extremely tasteful blend of jazz vocals, pop style, and adult contemporary sway, the album featured two cuts penned by Melua, as well as covers of material from John Mayall, Randy Newman, and James Shelton.

This year the all-conquering Katie Melua follows her multi-platinum debut with a more blues-based album, Piece By Piece, for which she was again assisted by veteran producer Mike Batt. During the two years between the releases, Katie has been touring extensively and clearly she's matured as an artist. Her dreamy voice sounds even stronger this time around and pleasantly surprises during a fresh spin on Canned Heat's '68 blues staple On The Road Again and an equally unique rendition of The Cure's Just Like Heaven. Piece By Piece begins teasingly with the soft-peddled "come hither" jazz flirtations of Shy Boy and concludes with the whispering philosophical torch song resignation of I Do Believe In Love. The two songs represent opposite ends of the emotional spectrum – sultry and kittenish on the one hand, solitary and ruminative on the other – but they also offer clues that the cutesy, crazy, easy listening Melua of Mike Batt's mentorship may be gradually acceding to the full bloom of self-determined musical adulthood. Melua's songs are often the more fretful and organic, the ghostly title track and the lovely I Cried for You are especially recommended. Batt's contributions are melodic, memorably buoyant and childlike, the Chinese-flavoured Nine Million Bicycles and the naggingly catchy Halfway Up The Hindu Kush are both charming despite their naive, pseudo-ethnicity and currently offer.

As anyone who has heard the first single from the album, Nine Million Bicycles, will testify, Piece By Piece is set to become at least as successful as the debut. It picks up where Calling Off The Search left off, while seeing Melua maturing into a singer-songwriter destined to be around for a few years yet. At this stage, Piece By Piece fits together nicely like a little jigsaw puzzle. And even if it didn't, Melua would still sound simply ambrosial singing from a washing machine repair manual.

(10.10.2005)
Rate review4.03
Total votes - 145


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