(30 January 2007) Katie Melua's sophomoric 2006 release of Piece by Piece: Special Bonus Edition (Dramatico (UK) DRAMDVDCD002, 2006) follows her successful 2003 chart topping debut album Call Off The Search. Herjazz infused style which also blends blues and pop presents a laid back style andbeautiful, sultry tones. The twelve track CD includes three bonus tracks as well asa DVD disc that has an eighty minute film shot during Katie's 2006 European Tour containingconcert footage and documentary style links. The DVD also has three promo films for"Nine Million Bicycles," "I Cried For You" and "Spider's Web." The sensual and bluesy "Shy Boy" sets the mood and overall tone of the album. Katie has an evocative delivery of the lyrics and she creates an easy-going and relaxed aura. Shecroons "Nine Million Bicycles" which was this album's first single and first top five hit in the UK. Her song caused some controversy in Europe when the science writer Simon Singh articulated that the lyrics demonstrated "a deep ignorance of cosmologyand no understanding of the scientific method." Barring that statement, Katie shouldbe allowed some artistic license with her interpretation of the lyrics and Singh's comments were a bit harsh. The song has a hauntingly beautiful melody that is highlightedwith Katie's stunning vocalise. Her rendition was inspired by a visit to China as wellas the things she heard and had seen (such as nine million bicycles in Beijing) thatfascinated her.
The title track "Piece by Piece" was written after she broke up with her boyfriend Luke Pritchard. This spellbinding piece has a more melancholy and mature flavor. Katie said,"I'm very pleased with the album and I feel that people who bought Call Off The Search will not be disappointed and that others will also discover something to like in it." Katie (who wrote the chorus) and Mike Batt (who wrote the verses) co-wrote "Halfway Up The Hindu Kush" as a joke using the suggestion implied in the title phrase which originated from a discussion about scarves on a train journey.
The sexy cover "Blues in the Night" continues to reveal Katie's seductive andalluring jazz-blues vocals. "Spider's Web" is a powerful, and almost progressive, rocker complete with vast tempo and style changes. Penned by Melua herself, it shows the singer's songwriting talent over the Batt- and cover-tunes performed on the debut album. More blues fare appears with "Blue Shoes" which fascinates the listener withher moody and succulent tones in the piano led ballad. Katie's rendition of Canned Heat's 1960's hit "On the Road Again" and "Thankyou Stars" are wonderful additionsto her repertoire.
She continues to show her sensitivity with The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" with its romantic overtones. The lovely and tender "I Cried For You" showcases her exquisite vocalsand emotive qualities. Katie sings with passion and touching sentiment. She carries on in the same vein in the strikingly passionate "I Do Believe in Love." The pace and Katie's evocative delivery makes the track work extremely well.
The first of the bonus tracks, "It's Only Pain," was recorded in New York at theManhattan Centre Studio 4 in July 2006 as a new track especially for this collection."Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" is a live performance recorded as part of a radioproject with other artists as a Beatles tribute. The acoustic version heard here wentto air from studio 2 at Abbey Road where the Beatles first recorded the original. Thelast of the bonus tracks, "Sometimes When I'm Dreaming" was recorded during the sessionsfor Piece By Piece but was not finished at that time. This stripped down versionwas specially mixed for this special bonus edition album. The DVD is a wonderfuladdition to this collection and shows a more intimate view of this marvelous chanteuse.
Although the formula for success on this CD remains the same with a handful ofcover songs combined with some of Mike Batt's superb material, Katie has insertedmore of herself with her own musical compositions. She shows significant growth asan artist, poignantly expressing herself with sentiment and beauty in her voice andmusic. Katie's languid tones capture the listener with her sensual delivery. Sheis an extremely versatile performer and she delivers the goods with emotionalintensity. There is no doubt that her album, Piece by Piece: Special Bonus Edition, will delight her fans with her sublime vocal ambrosia.--Audrey Elliot in New York