Release date: September 2005
Piece by Piece, released in 2005, is the second album by UK jazz and blues singer Katie Melua.
Its first single, "Nine Million Bicycles", became Melua's first top five hit in the UK and caused controversy when science writer Simon Singh said the lyrics "demonstrates a deep ignorance of cosmology and no understanding of the scientific method". The disputed lyrics were:" We are 12 billion light-years from the edge. That's a guess - no-one can ever say it's true, but I know that I will always be with you." They were interpreted by Singh as an assault on the accuracy of the work of cosmologists which sparked a series of letters from other Guardian readers, agreeing or disagreeing. On 15 October, Melua and Singh appeared on the BBC's Today programme, and Melua unveiled a re-recording of the song which included Singh's tongue-in-cheek amendments to the lyrics:" We are 13.7 billion light-years from the edge of the observable universe, That's a good estimate with well-defined error bars, And with the available information, I predict that I will always be with you." Both sides amicably agreed that the new lyrics were less likely to achieve commercial success, amidst a discussion about scientific accuracy versus artistic licence. Melua said that she "should have known better" because she used to be a member of the astronomy club at school.
The second single was a double A-side comprising "I Cried for You" and a cover of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven". The former song was written after Melua met the writer of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and is about Jesus and Mary Magdalene, while the latter was recorded for the soundtrack to the film Just Like Heaven. The single peaked outside the UK top twenty, and the album's third single, "Spider's Web" (which Melua wrote when she was eighteen, during the Iraq war) did not reach the top forty.
Melua wrote the title song "Piece by Piece" after she broke up with her boyfriend Luke Pritchard, and "Half Way up the Hindu Kush" was written by Katie and Mike Batt as a joke playing on the innuendo implicit in the title phrase, which cropped up in a conversation about scarves on a train journey. Katie wrote the chorus and Mike the verses. Alongside covers of "Blues in the Night" and Canned Heat's "On the Road Again", the album includes "Thank You, Stars", which was previously released as a B-side on Melua's debut single "The Closest Thing to Crazy" in 2003.
The album was re-released in 2006, as Piece By Piece: Special Bonus Edition, with three additional tracks and a bonus DVD with concert Moment by Moment and promo videos.
A special edition for Spanish department store El Corte Inglés had additional tracks - Spanish language versions of "Closest Thing to Crazy" ("Esa Clase de Locura") and "Faraway Voice" (aka "Otra vez tu").
The USA release had two extra tracks (but not the Special Bonus edition tracks), "Jack's Room" and "Market Day in Guernica".