Q (Magazine) (p.103) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "'Check Mate''s military drums, brass and Regina Spektor-ish wounded artiness suggest there's more and better to come."
British pop singer Eliza Caird, better known as Eliza Doolittle, stormed the charts in 2010 with her rambunctious, smartly produced self-titled debut. That album, with its mix of jazzy pop music, was a Day-Glo showcase for her big personality, sexy flirtatiousness, and resonant vocal chops. Certified platinum in 2011, it helped propel Doolittle to bona fide pop star status, and whet her fans' appetite for her next move. However, rather than jump back into the studio and crank out another album, Doolittle took her time. She expanded into modeling, and even dated Good Charlotte's Benji Madden, with whom she ultimately broke up. Free of Madden and with an eye on revealing a more mature version of herself, Doolittle's 2013 sophomore album, In Your Hands, goes far toward moving her in a more grown-up direction. Working with a handful of writer/producers including Kid Harpoon (Mayer Hawthorne, Jessie Ware) and Steve Robson (Kings of Leon, Paloma Faith, Cher), In Your Hands is a sophisticated, contemporary dance and soul album that takes its cues from the sound and style of '90s R&B stars like Mariah Carey and En Vogue. Although there are certainly more than a few '60s-inflected numbers, including the infectious, gospel-and-blues-inflected "Back Packing," the Brill Building-esque "Hush," and the Jackson Five-sounding "Let It Rain," In Your Hands is less a post-Adele, post-Amy Winehouse album and more of a contemporary pop album in the vein of Doolittle's contemporaries like Jessie J. and Leona Lewis. Ultimately, the focus on In Your Hands is less on Doolittle's cheeky persona and more on her passionate lyrics and warm vocals, a change she can back up with her creativity and talent. ~ Matt Collar