Title: Call Off the Search
by: Ed Canavan
Listening to the debut release by Katie Melua is quite like curling up in front of the fireplace in the dead of winter with the one you love… a gentle, beautiful and exiting experience that takes up permanent residence in an alcove of the warmest and fondest of memories.
A excellent collection of originals a cherry-picked covers, Melua's vocal range and true emotional connection to these songs is what differentiates this album from anything else in the all-too prefabricated era of pop idols and barely-legal divas.
Guided with precision by manager/writer/producer Mike Batt, "Call Off The Search" is a true jewel in the rough. Running the gamut from soft-jazz ("Closest Thing To Crazy") to gritty blues (John Mayall's "Crawling Up A Hill") to the tongue-in-cheek boogie of the Batt-penned "My Aphrodisiac Is You", Melua's siren-like pitch perfect voice rises above the minimal orchestration and takes center stage on every track.
Born in the former Soviet Union, raised in Belfast, and arriving in London in her early teens, Ms. Melua has seen and heard the best and worst of what this tumultuous world has to offer and sings about it with the utmost sincerity. Her voice resonates a wisdom far beyond her 19 years and will surely only get better with time.
Although comparisons to Nora Jones and Diana Krall are inevitable, Katie has a presence and grit that far surpasses her contemporaries, which I had the pleasure of experiencing first hand at an intimate showcase at Room 5 in Hollywood.
She opened the performance, accompanied only by her acoustic guitar, with the self-penned "Faraway Voice", an ode to one of her more obvious influences, Eva Cassidy. Joined by pianist/composer Batt for most of the set, she joked and conversed with the enraptured audience between soulful and heartwarming renditions of many songs from her current release, including her sultry take on Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going to Rain Today", and her own versions of jazz/blues standards like "Learning the Blues" and "Mockingbird Song" . She then chose to close just as she began, only an acoustic guitar accompanying her, with a tear-jerking cover of Eva Cassidy's "Anniversary Song", a fitting lullaby to end this truly enchanted evening.