Somewhere in the California desert there's an underground cave where grizzled AR men are forced to cobble together whimsical songstresses from the mouldy remains of Tori Amos and the soggy remnants of Lisa Loeb, while a Sony executive stands over them with a massive horse whip saying: "More hair. Bigger eyes. This time give her a piano and a guitar, dammit."
That's not to discredit the silky musings of Sara Bareilles, the 28-year-old Californian who stormed the US charts last year with the jazz-infused ditty, "Love Song". Just to say that the quirky smock top and tousled bed hair in evidence on her latest album cover (Little Voice, out this week) are eerily reminiscent of Katie Melua, Norah Jones, ooh and just about every female singer under 30 cranked out by the dark satanic mills of the record industry in recent years.
That said, she's more lively and spirited than either, and her easy, swooping vocal style (in contrast to Melua who, at her croaky, plodding worst, sounds like a doll in a horror film giving a creepy rendition of "Oranges and Lemons") lend her records a charm and vivacity her contemporaries lack.
The chart-busting "Love Song" is even a veiled attack on her record label for trying to force her into the poppet-with-piano mould. Hear more feistiness at myspace.comsarabareilles.