She’s been compared to greats like Norah Jones and Peggy Lee, and she earns those comparisons honestly. At 24, Georgian-born British jazz, blues and folk singer-songwriter Katie Melua delivers a sound that can only be described as absolutely exquisite. What a soothing voice she has! On her third studio album Pictures (released in the US last month) she offers 12 unforgettable tracks filled with catchy melodies and lilting rhythms without straying from the formula that earned her legions of fans, an armful of awards, and incredible wealth.
Produced by long-time collaborator and co-writer Mike Batt, Pictures is full of highlights and is a splendid vehicle for Melua’s amazingly sultry vocals that first won us over when she debuted with the multi-platinum Call off the Search in 2003 and its 2005 follow-up Piece by Piece. On Pictures, Melua confirms that she has grown leaps and bounds, doing what she does best: performing poetry set to music, frequently with her acoustic guitar as faithful companion. Irresistible gems like “If You Were A Sailboat” and “What I Miss About You” speak directly to the soul, as do the similarly charming songs “Perfect Circle” and “If The Lights Go Out”.
Melua’s flawless vocal inflections are a delight on other notable tracks including the reggaefied and bouncy “Ghost Town” and the seductive Latin-tinged “Dirty Dice”. “Mary Pickford (Used To Eat Roses)” and “Spellbound” also do justice to her reputable talent. Reminiscent of her mesmerizing, must-hear debut singles “Call Off The Search” and “The Closest Thing To Crazy”, the tracks on Pictures conjures the rich history of blues and soul, while remaining firmly rooted in the present. Not many in the modern music world can pull off melancholy as authentically and hauntingly as Norah Jones and Katie Melua. Amy Winehouse, Duffy and Adele are the only likely exceptions.
For lovers of genuine jazz, blues and occasional heartwarming acoustic delivery, Pictures is a must. Overall, it’s a tremendous effort. Five easy stars.
DOWNLOAD: “Dirty Dice”, “Ghost Town”, “Perfect Circle” and “If You Were A Sailboat”