The House

Please allow Katie Melua to introduce herself: "I'd love to kill you while you eat," she sings over the eerie pedal steel guitar of the opening track. The Soviet Georgia-born, British-raised singer-songwriter is a superstar in the U.K., but she's barely registered in the States. The House, her fourth disc, is a stylistic leap for the theatrical performer who owes no small debt to Kate Bush. Melua tapped Madonna producer William Orbit to add a little sparkle to guilty pleasures like the sci-fi disco fantasy "Tiny Alien," but keeps things grounded on organic bluesy brooders like "The One I Love Is Gone." A mixed bag of atmospherics that somewhat justifies Melua's chart-topping popularity back home.