Wednesday , May 22 2024

Katie Melua, “Call Off the Search”

Katie Melua’s debut rides the Norah Jones pop-jazz highway straight down the middle of the road, but it’s a road with awfully nice landscaping. The 12-song release is filled with warm-hearted and accomplished singing, tasteful arrangements, and enough variety to make the album a good listen all the way through. It’s marred only by clumsy lyrics in the six songs written by Melua’s collaborator Mike Batt, including the otherwise lovely title track; the 19-year-old singer deserves better lines to wrap her sweet, slightly husky voice around.

Batt’s simple and lovely “Tiger in the Night” is an exception, but it’s lightweight, if not quite a throwaway. “The Closest Thing to Crazy” and “My Aphrodisiac Is You” are more interesting songs, and fortunately, Melua is such a talented, gorgeous-voiced singer that most of the time she transcends any weaknesses in the material anyway. I like Melua’s own two songs, especially “Belfast,” and her covers of songs by Randy Newman and John Mayall sparkle.

Musically, the material, a mix of jazz, blues, pop and singer-songwriter strains, is well chosen and well written. Like Ella Fitzgerald, whose influence is obvious, and also like the more airy-voiced Jones, Melua is at home in several categories of song, able to meld accessible pop with sophisticated jazz. Her delivery on the ballads (like “Tiger in the Night”) can be a little sleepy for my taste, but her blues (especially in “Mockingbird Song”) is satisfyingly convincing, especially for such a young singer. Her kittenish version of Mayall’s “Crawling Up a Hill” enters Rickie Lee Jones territory, and she drawls through a song called “Lilac Wine” like a wizened but less gravelly Marianne Faithfull. The classy instincts and sharp musical intelligence displayed on this CD promise an exceptional career.

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Music, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

Check Also

Music Review: Ray Charles – Genius: The Ultimate Ray Charles Collection

The new Ray Charles compilation is pure genius.