Georgia-born (as in the country, not the state) singer/songwriter Katie Melua found herself atop the British charts in 2003 with her breezy debut, Call Off the Search, which sold over three million copies in Europe alone. Her laid-back blend of blues, jazz, and pop with a kiss of worldbeat drew comparisons to Norah Jones, and rightfully so. She sticks to the formula on her lush, ultimately safe follow-up, Piece by Piece. This is Coldplay for the Diana Krall crowd, a perfectly rendered slice of adult contemporary pie for a lazy summer day delivered by an artist whose beautiful voice is almost striking in how unremarkable it is. Her longtime collaborator, producer/songwriter Mike Batt, provides the catchiest number, an odd and endearing little confection called "Nine Million Bicycles." It's both silly and sweet, two things that work in Melua's favor. Sure, she can vamp it up with the best of them on bluesy asides like "Shy Boy" and the dreadful "Blues in the Night," but there's a whole lot of innocence in that voice that just shrivels in the midst of all that bravado. Only in her early twenties, Melua's got plenty of time to decide on a persona, and Piece by Piece has enough quality material on it to placate fans until she does, but there's some tension here, and it doesn't sound intentional. Besides, anyone who covers Canned Heat and the Cure on the same record is still trying to figure it all out.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger