Katie Melua

Ultimate Collection

(BMG)

 

 

This is a pretty comprehensive round-up of Melua gems plus a few new efforts on a double-album, with some cool monochrome imagery in a fold-out digipak format and a decent booklet. Melua’s DNA has traces of folk, blues, rock and of course her Georgian roots. This makes her a unique figure on the international music scene but best of all grants her a sonic passport to anywhere. Between you and me, I can imagine an album leaning in a Norah Jones direction if Katie so decided. But it will still be Melua.

Nine Million Bicycles is as good a place as anywhere to start and it retains its folky charm and easy melody. What a Wonderful World (with the late Eva Cassidy) is a cute reading of the standard, the two voices sounding sweet and gentle. Plane Song has a slightly chilly ambience suiting its ghostly theme. It is warmed by the backing vocals. Melua’s clear and unaffected vocal is a joy.

The One I Love Is Gone is a curious blues waltz that puts sepia images in the listener’s head, the melody redolent of a French romantic film. On to the old John Mayall number Crawling Up a Hill, its grainy trumpet runs and soft drumming making this a unique reading, the ascending bridge a delight and Katie singng out as she should more often. Next up is In My Secret Life, an almost Steely Dan soul outing, handled with sensual ease by Melua. Most female artists would screech the **** of this one. Witness the hideous shots at another Cohen song Hallelujah! The Love I’m Frightened Of explores country ballad styling whilst Red Balloons flirts with electronica and a somewhat timid vocal.

Belfast (Penguins and Cats) uses a lilting rhythm for a lucid, descriptive vocal. A Time to Buy rides in on tumbling guitar and the mood is somewhere between Gretchen Peters and Joni Mitchell in style. The voice is a tad deeper. What I Miss About You continues the conversational leaning, with a gorgeous arrangement. It’s an ache of a song and a highlight here. Spider’s Web (Single Version) has a sombre mood, redolent of Al Stewart. Thank You Stars and its Dylanesque top line gets a straight reading. The strings-topped electronic pulse of I Will Be There takes that voice somewhere else. Then Joni’s winsome River, fast becoming THE Christmas ballad, treated with breathy delicacy in this incarnation.

Disc 2 opens with The Closest Thing to Crazy, all gentle guitars and a solemn tune. Dreams on Fire is a Katie collaboration with Don Black and could have used a prominent Fender Rhodes contribution. It is sung to perfection. No major overhaul on Wonderful Life but its simplicity brings it home, emphasising the impact of the words..magic everywhere, indeed. Then If You Are So Beautiful, not sung in English but floating on a chorale with a shadowy cadence. Piece By Piece is a mellow Melua poem set to music, again French filmic vibe to it. The Little Swallow employs the glorious choir for a rendition of charm and swaying tunefulness.

Just Like Heaven is a pretty folk lament with a hint of Knocking On Heaven’s Door in the chords, a playful summer’s day lyric and light backing. Next comes Call Off The Search and a hushed voice on a Thirties melody. Walls Of The World sounds as though it is from a West End musical but spares us the OTT chorale. The Flood finds Katie in a mystic background, an almost conspiratorial vocal and that haunting ‘blame’ chorus. Tiger in the Night is sung well but the tempo is a tad sluggish for this scribe. I Cried For You has Melua in a resigned, downer frame of mind. If You Were A Sailboat I recall from radio play at the time, the arrangement has an attractive flow even if the lyric doesn’t quite get home. Where Does The Ocean Go ? has the mellower Katie vocal touch on a vaguely Hispanic tune. Would have made a great duet with Alfie Boe ? Perfect World is a lullaby of a song and ends the sequence.

Then, on to the Bonus Tracks. Bridge Over Troubled Water is a composition I loathe, a pseudo-hymn that no singer in the universe could pull off..and who the hell is ‘Silver Girl’ ? Not for me. However the glorious Diamonds Are Forever is a song and a half and it is fabulous to hear it sung sensually rather than roared out by some drag act. Great to have this version. Fields of Gold is the Sting ballad, always a crowd pleaser and sung straight here, to good effect.

A decent round-up of an individual artist’s works which will include most fans’ favourites.

Pete Sargeant



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(Thanks to Glenn, the team at Republic Media and kudos to Katie for her recent Nordoff Robins charity show at The Borderline)

Katie Melua's new album 'Ultimate Collection' is out now on BMG.

For more information visit her official website here: http://bit.ly/2OHUzqS

In addition, Katie Melua and The Gori Women's Choir will embark on a thirteen-date November/December 2018 UK Tour and will visit the following venues:

 

Thursday 29th November 2018 -  St David’s Hall, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2a2nVLc

Friday 30th November 2018 - Symphony Hall, Birmingham, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2o9Nhwy

Sunday 2nd December 2018 - Lowry, Salford, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2ocv9U9

Monday 3rd December 2018 -  Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2kNM1yH

Tuesday 4th December 2018 - G Live, Guildford, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2hxNhSe

Thursday 6th December 2018 -  Brighton Dome, Brighton, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/29GjgQP

 

Friday 7th December 2018 - Forum, Bath, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2qUfFCk

Saturday 8th December 2018 -  Central Hall Westminster, London, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2y2CJW0

Monday 10th December 2018 - Philharmonic, Liverpool, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2nabbqP

Tuesday 11th December 2018 -  Sage, Gateshead, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2a3RVJk

Wednesday 12th December 2018 - Barbican, York, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2IgzUYq

Thursday 13th December 2018 - Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2Jbd19i