Michelle Branch

'Paper'back Writer

BranchMichelle Branch will look to avoid the sophomore slump on her new album, "Hotel Paper," due this week from Maverick. First single "Are You Happy Now?" has already taken off at radio and is No. 12 on Billboard's Adult Top 40 Tracks tally. Other tracks include "Empty Handed," featuring an orchestral arrangement by Beck's father David Campbell, and "Love Me Like That," a duet with Sheryl Crow.

"Comparisons are always going to be made, and no one can change that," the 20-year-old artist says of her sound. "But just because other young females release records after mine does not create a movement. Just start with Stevie Nicks, throw in Sheryl Crow and put me somewhere at the bottom."

"Hotel Paper" is the follow-up to 2001's "The Spirit Room," which peaked at No. 28 on The Billboard 200, and has sold nearly 1.8 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. "I spent the last two years of my life traveling so when it was time to begin work on a new record, I realize [it] had already been written in hotel rooms around the world," Branch says. The artist is opening for the Dixie Chicks through Aug. 4 in Nashville.