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Call Off the Enthusiasm

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The floor is sticky in spots. The seats you wanted are taken, but the second best are available, so you take them and sit down. The smell of other people’s popcorn is strong and unpleasant. The auditorium is still lit as more people come in and sit down.


The screen is showing advertisements, still images from a slide projector. Now it’s an ad for refreshing Coca-Cola. Now it’s an ad for Lenscrafters. Now it’s an ad for some greasy bar-b-q restaurant. You haven’t been paying attention to the music coming over the speakers — it’s that typical AMC Movie Tunes dreck. Songs that appear to be beautiful but lack any beauty or genuine feeling. Songs with a squeaky model’s voice, a voice that does not do the songs justice, if the songs had any redeeming value to begin with, juxtaposed to Lenscrafters and Coca-Cola.


This is supposed to be a review of Katie Melua’s new CD Call off the Search, but I’m finding it difficult to write anything positive. I did not like this CD.


In a nutshell, Kate Melua has chosen material that she has no credibility singing. These are not the tunes she’s looking for. These are not the tunes people are going to find her with.


Her voice is thin and weak, all style but no substance. There’s no energy, no experience, no emotion that sounds real or heartfelt. And there’s the problem of her age (19): singing songs that older people can relate to, but when sung by her, sound like some slightly creepy appearance of a teenage kid on American Idol or Star Search singing the blues or some kind of subject matter that only makes sense when the singer’s swung a few more times around the sun.


For instance, one song, called The Closest Thing to Crazy, she sings, “how can you treat me like a child?” Well, I can imagine a few reasons. She sings, “feeling 22, acting 17…” How about we split the difference: 19. I sound like an old coot but hell, go listen if you have to. Close your eyes. Lenscrafters.


The music is well-produced, well-recorded, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that the songs are tedious. The voice is completely phony, rendering the listening experience an ordeal, not a moment of joy.

But all is not lost. I have the perfect antidote to Call Off the Search: it’s listening to K.D. Lang stunning performance of Crying off of her LIVE BY REQUEST album. Now there is a woman with a voice, and passion, and dramatic delivery. That is a performance that inspires awe. A performance that is so incredibly powerful, by the end you’ll have to immediately play the song over again for a closer listen. You’ll be wondering, did you really hear what you thought you heard? And are those tears in your eyes?


Try it. Run, go find a copy of Lang’s performance. Listen closely. Turn the volume WAY UP. I guarantee you’ll have completely forgotten about Melua’s CD like I have.

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