'Piece by Piece is Kelly Clarkson's seventh studio album released on February 27, 2015 on RCA Records.
In 2013, Kelly released her first Christmas album Wrapped in Red which to her represented a beginning for a second phase for her career.
In the midst of recording it, she also collaborated with recording artists Robbie Williams, Martina McBride and Trisha Yearwood with their respective albums.
In an interview with Billboard magazine, Kelly announced intentions to release a set of pop and country records, as well as a potential Broadway album, as a follow-up to "Wrapped in Red."
RCA Records chief executive Peter Edge also revealed in their 2014 mid-year assessment that they were in a process of finding new music and directions for some of the their established acts: primarily with Kelly.
The early stages of development for a follow-up studio album began as early as June 2012, with Kelly commissioning Rodney Jerkins in recording a potential track. She remarked, "We're already working. I'm constantly like that because you never know when you're going to find a song and so we're always working on the next thing."
The follow-up album would complete the terms of her recording contract with RCA Records and 19 Recordings, which was signed following her win on the first season of the television competition American Idol in 2002.
Recording sessions for Piece by Piece began in while Kelly is in the midst of the 2013 Honda Civic Tour with Maroon 5 and continuing on while pregnant with her first child.
During its production, Kelly had amassed over twenty songs for her to record. Some of production team behind "Wrapped in Red" also returned on the album, led by Greg Kurstin, whom she had first commissioned since "Stronger."
Jesse Shatkin, who had first worked as an engineer under Kurstin on her last two studio albums, revealed that he had produced a couple tracks on the record. He described the transition into a more creative role as "especially poignant".
Sia (who was also a frequent collaborator of Kurstin and Shatkin) have announced intentions to submit recording materials to Kelly.
Joseph Trapanese (who conducted arrangements in "Wrapped in Red") confirmed that he had finished arranging and recording five of the album's songs with a full philharmonic orchestra.
Theme & InfluencesEdit
Inspired by the production on "Wrapped in Red," Kelly wanted for all the tracks on Piece by Piece to sound like its own soundtrack, while also wanting every song to have a potential as a single.
Taking inspirations from the soundtracks of the feature films "Cruel Intentions" and "Love Actually," she remarked, "I love soundtracks and I love how you can tell, "Oh, this should be in a soundtrack!" You can picture the movie. I definitely wanted the orchestral elements going on and I definitely wanted the intense factor going on."
Kelly illustrated the album as a concept record telling a single "awesome" story, using different pieces of her aspects, leading her to name the album "Piece by Piece."
Citing the aspects of heartbreak and personal struggle as well as peace and empowerment in its lyrical content, she described the record as an album within an uplifting and reflective environment.
She recalled, "I'm 32 years old, I have pretty much run the gauntlet of pretty much every emotion you could possibly go through — especially being 19 (years old) and being thrust into the industry, and growing up really quickly."
Kelly shares five co-writing credits on the album citing that her pregnancy prevented her from writing more material. She recalled, "It was the first time I didn't really feel inspired, because I was so sick, but I didn't feel like writing anymore. The big difference for this recording was collecting from other writers I'm inspired by."
The album opens with "Heartbeat Song", produced by Kurstin and written by Kara DioGuardi, Jason Evigan, Audra Mae, and Mitch Allan.
Kelly described the track as a song that could have fit on Stronger but was a little more progressive, and that the track performs a bridge connecting Stronger to Piece by Piece.
Produced by Shatkin, "Invincible" follows as the second song of empowerment, written by Sia, Shatkin, Steve Mostyn, and Warren Felder.
Kelly had originally intended the song to be recorded as a duet with Sia, but RCA ultimately decided to keep Sia' vocals uncredited to avoid competition with her studio album "1000 Forms of Fear" as both were on the same label.
The last song recorded for the album Shatkin sent the song to Kelly saying, "Sia and I just wrote this song and you've gotta hear it. I know you're finished with the record but you've gotta hear it", in which she quickly agreed.
The third track, "Someone", is a non-apology apology song written by Matthew Koma and produced by Kurstin.
The fourth track "Take You High" was produced by Shatkin which written with Mozella, which he described as "an electronic banger" and "a little left-of-center", but also having a haunting melody that he thought (Kelly) was attracted to.
Clarkson described the fifth and the titular track "Piece by Piece" as her most personal song on the album. Produced by Kurstin, She co-wrote the song with him after a conversation she had with her sister about their family life.
The sixth song, "Run Run Run", features American recording artist John Legend. Produced by Jason Halbert, it was written by Tim James, Antonina Armato, Joacim Persson, Ry Cuming, David Jost.
Kelly and John Legend had previously worked together on the short-lived American television program Duets in 2012.
Originally deemed as a solo record, Kelly invited him to turn the track as a duet after recording her part during the 2013 Honda Civic Tour, in which Legend responded within ten minutes saying "Oh my god, I'd love to do it. Send me the file!"
"Run Run Run" was also recorded by the German rock band Tokio Hotel for their fifth studio album Kings of Suburbia which Kelly was previously unfamiliar with until releasing her version.
Produced by Kurstin, Kelly co-wrote the seventh track "I Had a Dream" with him after lamenting with her friends about the dichotomy that exists between expectations and reality of how her generation has become.
Featuring a gospel chorus, she bemoaned, "I don't understand why we're still struggling with these basic, asinine issues (Gay, straight, black, and white). It bothers me. So I ended up writing this whole song about it and I had a dream that we were more."
Co-written with Sia, Kurstin produced the eighth track, "Let Your Tears Fall". It was the first song Kelly recorded for Piece by Piece, which she had recorded while still touring with Maroon 5.
The song was finished just as Sia and Kurstin had completed work for "1000 Forms of Fear", in which Clarkson fell in love with the song's lyrical message of "having that person in your life—or people in your life—who can be a shoulder to cry on."
Co-written with Kelly, Kurstin also produced the ninth song "Tightrope".
Originally penned as a piano ballad, she wrote the song about being stumped no matter how one proves oneself, while Kurstin added an orchestral element with its production.
Produced by Halbert, the tenth track, "War Paint", was written by Julia Michaels, Joleen Belle, and Sir Nolan.
Kelly described the song as a record about letting someone's guard down, saying "We build this wall but at our core we all want the same thing—you want to be loved, and you want to be a part of something."
Produced by Kurstin, Dan Rockett wrote the eleventh track "Dance with Me".
Originally intended to be included on "Greatest Hits: Chapter One", Kelly deemed the song was too progressive to be included on it. Rockett also revealed that he imagined the track as a David Bowie/Lady Gaga duet while presenting the song to Polow da Don, who then pitched the song to her.
Written by Justin Tranter, Ryland Blackinton, Dan Keyes, and Vaughn Oliver, the twelfth track "Nostalgic" was produced by Halbert.
An uptempo electronic rock song, Clarkson recorded the song as an ode to the 1980s. The closing track on the standard edition, "Good Goes the Bye" was written by Shane McAnally, Natalie Hemby, and Jimmy Robbins.
Originally deemed as a country demo, Kelly remarked that Halbert produced the record to resonate a Eurythmics-style song.
In addition, two tracks were also included in the deluxe edition of the album: the fourteenth, "Bad Reputation", written by Kelly, Kelly Sheehan, Kurstin, and Bonnie McKee, was produced by Kurstin.
The fifteenth track, "In the Blue", was produced by Shatkin, which he co-wrote with Clarkson, Anjulie Persaud, and Fransisca Hall.
Produced by Chris DeStefano, "Second Wind" closes the album as the final track, which he had co-written with McAnally and Maren Morris.
- Heartbeat Song (3:18) (written by Kara DioGuardi, Jason Evigan, Audra Mae, Mitch Allan; produced by Greg Kurstin & Jason Halbert)
- Invincible (3:58) (written by Sia Furler, Jesse Shatkin, Stephen Mostyn, Warren "Oak" Felder; produced by Shatkin, Steve Mostynb & Oakb)
- Someone (3:39) (written by Matthew Koma; produced by Kurstin & Halbert)
- Take You High (4:20) (written by Shatkin, Maureen "Mozella" McDonald; produced by Shatkin)
- Piece by Piece (4:17) (written by Kelly Clarkson & Kurstin; produced by Kurstin)
- Run Run Run (4:32) (Tim James, Antonina Armato, Joacim Persson, Ry Cuming & David Jost; Halbert)
- I Had a Dream (3:58) (written by Kelly Clarkson & Kurstin; produced by Kurstin)
- Let Your Tears Fall (3:55) (written by Sia Furler & Kurstin; produced by Kurstin0
- Tightrope (3:32) (written by Kelly Clarkson & Kurstin; produced by Kurstin)
- War Paint (3:44) (written by Joleen Belle, Julia Michaels & Nolan Lambroza; produced by Halbert)
- Dance with Me (4:20) (written by Dan Rockett; produced by Halbert)
- Nostalgic (3:37) (written by Justin Tranter, Ryland Blackinton, Dan Keyes & Vaughn Oliver; produced by Halbert)
- Good Goes the Bye (3:21) (written by Shane McAnally, Natalie Hemby & Jimmy Robbins; produced by Halbert & Eric Olson)