Piece By Piece

Katie Melua

Dramatico, 2005

REVIEW BY: Shane M. Liebler

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/21/2006

Innocuous lite FM radio is one of the reasons kids can't wait to get their licenses. One of the rewards for 16 years of aural assault is the simple act of turning the dial away from schlocky mom rock like Celine Dion, Michael Bolton and the late-career, movie soundtrack work of once-palatable crooners (there are too many to name).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

How a new artist could get away with this negligible noise these days is befuddling, but the British public has lifted Katie Melua to platinum status over the course of her three-year career.

There's nothing wrong with young Melua's musicianship on Piece By Piece, her second effort. The piano and guitar work is admirable, if way over-produced, and her voice has a stern, but gentle flow with reflections of Mazzy Starr's Hope Sandoval.

But, the music itself is unremarkable and unmemorable, lacking the smoky ambience that made kindred spirit Norah Jones a household name in the states. Like the crappy radio music many of our parents forced us to listen to, it's lite. All the ingredients seem to be there, but the hooks are missing. Piece By Piece, like schlock rock, lacks soul.

The native Soviet Georgian adds an international flavor to many of these rudimentary love songs, quoting global population stats on "Nine Million Bicycles" and foreign landscapes on "Halfway Up The Hindu Kush." The songs, though, substitute Splenda for sugar and fail to stick to the ribs.

If there's a standout, it's Melua's cover of the Cure classic "Just Like Heaven." Unlike the original, it's kinda sexy. There's a cautiously sensuous swagger to jazz standard "Blues In The Night," as well. But, it doesn't make up for the dismantling boredom I get from Piece By Piece. It's the same restless feeling I got during car travels of yore.

I wouldn't bar the 22-year-old from U.S. success down the road, but she'll have to drop some of the production and pick up some sass to make a mark.

Rating: D

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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