Katie Melua
Call Off the Search
2003
C



so, like, Katie Melua has a great voice (only a pinhead would disagree with this!). It’s big and impressive without needing to over-emphasise those traits—content in the knowledge of its crystal clear tone and great elasticity. The production? Also very good. Everything—strings, clarinets, guitars—is rendered in Technicolor. Hold on, though. It’s not over-produced either. It’s like a nice tall glass of water, with plenty of ice in it: simple, sharp and does its job nicely.

So, you know, this is very well executed. But perhaps the concept is not such an appealing one? Even though she sounds sharper and clearer than Norah Jones, Katie Melua sounds very much like her. Sensible people know that Jones is great, and so Katie Melua is inevitably going to be measured against this (very long and excellent) yardstick. Is she up to the task?

Kind of. A sharper clearer Norah Jones is perhaps not the ideal Norah Jones—we tend to much prefer Norah all woozy and dazed, giving her songs an indistinct quality that keeps us feeling safe. In opposition, everything is brought into stark relief on Call Off the Search. It’s tastefully jazzy in the same way that Norah is, but lacks the sense of homeliness. It’s a cold leather sofa, rather than a nice polyester one with a big woolly rug on it.

So, by now, you probably know the single “The Closest Thing to Crazy”. You know it because it’s a great song. The rest of the album, however, is less effective. OK, opener “Call Off the Search” rocks a tad, and perhaps this rocking approach could be fleshed out more on the second album (please?). Oh! And there’s a cover of “Lilac Wine”, which Jeff Buckley once covered as well. Which is fitting, because if Katie Melua plays her cards right she could be the next Jeff Buckley.

So, it’s kind of a letdown in the end. This album could have been great, but Katie tried to take Norah on. Ultimately, no one will win that battle. But, you know, if you’re hankering for more Jones, this might be a nice disc for you. Just don’t expect complete satisfaction.
Reviewed by: Kilian Murphy
Reviewed on: 2004-03-31
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