Categories
Rock & Pop Music

Katie Melua – Call off the search

Plucked from music-school obscurity by songwriter/producer Mike Batt, Katie Melua quickly became the highest-selling female musician in the U.K., a feat that owed much of its success to her wildly popular 2003 debut. Melua was born in Soviet Georgia in 1984 and later moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her family pulled up stakes several years later and relocated to London, where Melua entered the B.R.I.T. School for the Performing Arts & Technology. The record industry-funded school had a habit of graduating talented artists like Floetry, and Melua became its next success when a 2003 showcase caught the attention of Batt, who’d been looking for a vocalist capable in both jazz and blues styles.

Find Melua’s sheet music transcriptions in our Library.

Call Off the Search, her debut album, was issued in the U.K. in November 2003 by Batt’s own label, Dramatico Records. A comfortable, tasteful blend of jazz vocals, pop style, and adult contemporary sway, the album featured two cuts penned by Melua (including a tribute to one of her biggest influences, Eva Cassidy), as well as covers of material from John Mayall, Randy Newman, and the James Shelton classic “Lilac Wine.” The single “Closest Thing to Crazy” hit number one in December, and by January of the following year, Call Off the Search had gone platinum (300,000 units in the U.K.). It continued selling copies for years, eventually going platinum six times.

sheet music pdf
Piece by Piece sheet music songbook

Gigs in Europe followed, and in May 2004 Melua made her way to the U.S. for a round of club dates in support of the album’s domestic release. She achieved even greater success with her 2005 follow-up, Piece by Piece, a heady blend of worldbeat and jazz-pop that topped both the international and British charts before setting its sights on the U.S. market in 2006. The similarly jazz-inflected Pictures followed a year later, and the concert recording Live at the O² Arena appeared in 2009. In 2010, Melua delivered the studio effort The House, which widened her sound with production from techno mastermind William Orbit. Two years later, she returned with the orchestral pop album Secret Symphony, featuring arrangements by longtime producer Batt.

English listeners went mad for Katie Melua with the release of her debut album in late 2003. Issued domestically in June 2004, Call Off the Search posits the lovely Melua pristinely in between pop, adult contemporary, and traditional American musical forms, with savvy marketing handling the finishing touches. (Think Norah Jones.) It’s a comfortable, lightly melodic affair that drinks red wine safely in the middle of the road. Raised in Soviet Georgia and the United Kingdom, Melua has a beguiling accent that colors the ends of her phrases, adding character to her velvety, if occasionally only satisfactory singing voice. She has a nice time with the understated R&B sashay of John Mayall’s “Crawling Up a Hill,” as well as Mike Batt’s “My Aphrodisiac Is You,” which is spiced up with barrelhouse piano, muted trumpet, and sly references to opium and the Kama Sutra. The singer’s own “Belfast (Penguins and Cats)” opens nicely with a few measures of solo acoustic guitar before it’s joined by the orchestral maneuvers that sweep through the majority of Call Off the Search’s after-dark cabaret. (Melua also penned a dedication to Eva Cassidy, who she’s been compared to vocally.) While the instrumentation is never overbearing, a stoic version of Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” and a couple of late-album pop vocal entries do dawdle a bit in the soft-focus halo that hovers over Search’s more easygoing stretches. These selections are perfectly capable, yet pretty obvious, as if the decision was made to sprinkle Melua’s debut equally with safety and variety, in case a particular style didn’t stick. Still, despite a few detours down easy street, Call Off the Search is a promising debut, and comfortable like the first drink of the evening.

English listeners went mad for Katie Melua with the release of her debut album in late 2003. Issued domestically in June 2004, Call Off the Search posits the lovely Melua pristinely in between pop, adult contemporary, and traditional American musical forms, with savvy marketing handling the finishing touches. (Think Norah Jones.) It’s a comfortable, lightly melodic affair that drinks red wine safely in the middle of the road. Raised in Soviet Georgia and the United Kingdom, Melua has a beguiling accent that colors the ends of her phrases, adding character to her velvety, if occasionally only satisfactory singing voice. She has a nice time with the understated R&B sashay of John Mayall’s “Crawling Up a Hill,” as well as Mike Batt’s “My Aphrodisiac Is You,” which is spiced up with barrelhouse piano, muted trumpet, and sly references to opium and the Kama Sutra. The singer’s own “Belfast (Penguins and Cats)” opens nicely with a few measures of solo acoustic guitar before it’s joined by the orchestral maneuvers that sweep through the majority of Call Off the Search’s after-dark cabaret. (Melua also penned a dedication to Eva Cassidy, who she’s been compared to vocally.) While the instrumentation is never overbearing, a stoic version of Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” and a couple of late-album pop vocal entries do dawdle a bit in the soft-focus halo that hovers over Search’s more easygoing stretches. These selections are perfectly capable, yet pretty obvious, as if the decision was made to sprinkle Melua’s debut equally with safety and variety, in case a particular style didn’t stick. Still, despite a few detours down easy street, Call Off the Search is a promising debut, and comfortable like the first drink of the evening.