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Katie Melua’s Call Off The Search

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I’ve finally gotten ready to do up my review of Call Off The Search. I got this CD about a week ago, and I’ve listened to it a few times, always meaning to write this review but never quite getting around to it. My recent trip up to Fodera gave me an nice stretch of time to listen and focus on the material, though.

First, some full disclosure: While this CD is within the general genre of CDs that I would consider purchasing, I did not buy this CD; it was given to me by the record label in return for this review. Feel free to take what I say with whatever grain of salt you see fit.

Melua’s biography is interesting enough; she hails from Russia and comes to the US by way of London. She’s a young girl (like seventeen or so, if I am remembering her bio sheet correctly), and this is her debut album.

Her voice immediately reminds me of Rickie Lee Jones. Melua’s singing seems very empheral; the words that lept to mind on my initial listen were “waifish,” “thin,” “light,” “mousey” and “breezy.” While I can appreciate that kind of singing, it doesn’t really float my boat. I tend more towards the throaty, full bodied style of vocalizing.

Most of the songs feel very similar: moody, slow, almost morose. Actually, as a note to the executive producer of this CD — placing half a dozen dark, downbeat, slow songs in a row might just lead to your target audience to start thinking of placing their head in the gas oven. And there are only so many varieties of slow songs you can string together on an album before it gets to be sleep inducing.

Highlights from this disc:

  • Call Off The Search — A very Norah Jones-ish kind of torch song with a chantuese motif going.
  • Crawling Up A Hill — A movin’ tune with a strong 60’s hipster kind of feel to it. Melua’s range and dynamics are showcased on this one.
  • Learnin’ The Blues — Yet another torch song. This is probably the best vocal song for her, as she really extends her range.

Some not so highlights:

  • Blame It On The Moon — As I was listening to this CD and taking notes, I had to restart this song four times. There’s so little there there (my apologies to Gertrude Stein) that I lost focus on the music.
  • Belfast (Penquins And Cats) — The only thing that kept my attention were the lyrics (not often that you hear a song that talks about both penguins and cats unless it’s focusing on Berke Breathed’s Bloom Country).
  • Mockingbird Song — I can’t really be objective on this one; my mother used to sing this to me when I was a child, so I have a huge built-in bias to like this tune. Having said that, I would have picked a different arrangement. The bluesy feel didn’t do much for me.

I don’t think I could recommend this CD. It just doesn’t have much to say. I can say that it’s for people who think that Norah Jones has too much edge.

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