Piece by Piece is the seventh studio album by American recording artist Kelly Clarkson. It was released on February 27, 2015, through RCA Records. The follow-up to her first Christmas album, Wrapped in Red (2013), it is her first studio album to completely contain original material since Stronger (2011) and her final studio album under her recording contract after winning the inaugural season of the television singing competition series American Idol in 2002.
Piece by Piece sees Clarkson reuniting with frequent collaborators Greg Kurstin, Jesse Shatkin, Jason Halbert, Eric Olson, and Chris DeStefano. Her pregnancy hurdled her efforts to write more than five songs for the album. As such, she gathered material from songwriters such as Sia, Matthew Koma, MoZella, Bonnie McKee, David Jost, Semi Precious Weapons lead singer Justin Tranter, and former Cobra Starship member Ryland Blackinton, among others. Inspired by the orchestral production on Wrapped in Red, Clarkson wanted for all the songs on Piece by Piece to resonate like its own film soundtrack, taking a cue from the soundtracks of the feature motion pictures Cruel Intentions (1999) and Love Actually (2003) and commissioning orchestral arrangements by Joseph Trapanese. The album is illustrated as a concept record telling a single story, using themes of heartbreak, personal struggles, peace, and empowerment. The music of Piece by Piece consists of electropop, orchestral pop, power pop and electronic dance music, marking a departure from the predominant pop rock sound of her previous studio albums. It also features guest vocals byJohn Legend.
Piece by Piece was released to positive reception by music critics, who applauded Clarkson’s vocal performances. Criticism mainly targeted the album’s production, as well as its belaboring on midtempo arrangements. Commercially, it became her third album to debut at the top of the Billboard 200 chart with 97,000 units sold. The album was preceded by the release of its lead single»Heartbeat Song» in January 2015, which became a top 30 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The record’s second single, «Invincible» was released in May 2015, while its supporting tour, the Piece by Piece Tour, began on July 11, 2015.