Hotel Paper

With "Hotel Paper," Grammy Award winner Michelle Branch has crafted the perfect second major-label album. It will not scare off the 1.8 million U.S.

With "Hotel Paper," Grammy Award winner Michelle Branch has crafted the perfect second major-label album. It will not scare off the 1.8 million U.S. fans who purchased her 2001 debut, "The Spirit Room." Lead single "Are You Happy Now?" is as likable and catchy as past hit "Everywhere." And there's more where that came from. "Find Your Way Back," the twangy "Love Me Like That" (featuring Sheryl Crow) and "Breathe" do not shy away from the singer/ songwriter's fondness for all things melodic and rocky. But after a while, some of this begins to sound formulaic. Not so the tender "One of These Days." With piano leading the way, Branch tearfully sings, "So, one of these days/I won't be afraid of staying with you/I hope and I pray/Waiting to find a way back to you/Cuz that's where I'm home." Perhaps that last line also points to a new musical direction. Stay tuned.—MP