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Katie Melua’s Missing One Thing

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Listening to Call Off the Search once was borderline dull. Listening to it a second time was a chore. It won’t get a third spin. I cannot fault this album for anything: the arrangements are good, the instrumentation works, the production is smooth, and the vocals are on key. What it doesn’t have is bite. There is nothing on this album that screams: “You need to listen to me again and again. I will continue to impress and inspire.” Once listen is sufficient.

Katie obviously has vocal talent, but it doesn’t sound like she really cares about what she’s singing. Maybe it’s because she only wrote two of the album’s 12 tracks. Maybe it’s because she was nervous in the studio. Maybe she puts forth more emotion in a live setting. As a musician, I can attest to this phenomenon. When you’re wearing a set of headphones and are directed to stop and start for hours on end, the feeling can get sucked out of you. It’s hard to get emotional on key. Perhaps it’s something musicians get used to after repeated visits to a studio. Or maybe I’m just proving the fact that I don’t listen to jazz very often and don’t know what to listen for.

Either way, this album demonstrates that even a lukewarm album can showcase a musician with potential. Katie has the vocal chords – there’s no doubt about that. But if she wants to do more than come off as an adult-contemporary-blah musician, she’ll have to show us some of the emotion that got her into music to begin with.

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