Call Off the Search by Kate Melua

This site is mostly about books, but I thought I would break things up a little bit and offer you something different. Below is a music review I posted over at Blogcritics.

I will be honest, I don’t have much to add to the Blogcritics discussion of Kate Melua’s album Call Off the Search. But being a blogger I will throw in my two cents anyways.

If this were an old fashioned cassette tape the first side would be the one that got worn out. From the sultry title track to the playful My Aphrodisiac Is You, from the jazzy Crawling Up A Hill to the seductive The Closest Thing To Crazy or the bluesy Learnin’ The Blues, the first four or five songs are quite enjoyable. Melua obviously has talent and, provided you like jazzy/bluesy/Broadway type tunes, the songs are a showcase for her voice. There is really nothing fancy here, just Melua’s voice and some basic backup orchestration. But the different styles of music and Melua’s pleasant voice make for enjoyable listening. The songs are simple, fun, and stand out from much of today’s standard fare.


Starting with Blame It On The Moon, however, things seem to get bogged down. The music slows down and Melua’s voice begins to blend song into song. Blame It On The Moon has a very dark and melancholy feel to it which in and of itself is fine, if a little plain. But then the next few tracks offer much of the same. Belfast (Penguins and Cats) continues the melancholy mood while the remakes of I Think It Is Going To Rain Today and Mockingbird Song are flat and fail to offer anything new. The novelty seems to have worn off at this point and all you are left with is a decent voice with rather garden variety orchestration as back up. Melua is veering perilously close to elevator music.

The album picks up a little bit with Tiger In The Night. The song is still mostly a sappy love song, but it has a bit of passion the the previous tracks lacked. In an effort at redemption Melua ends the album on a strong note. Faraway Voice and Lilac Wine are also sentimental and melancholy songs about lost loves but they showcase Melua’s voice which is her strength. Once again, in these songs you feel her personality and her passion come through and it lifts the song above the ordinary.

All in all Call Off the Search reveals the potential of this young singer. She has a beautiful voice and the ability to give personality to a range of music from jazz and blues to showtunes and plaintive love songs. But her voice is not enough by itself. The music and the songs themselves are important. When the songs lack creativity and oomph Melua gets bogged down and becomes rather ordinary. When the songs have an edge, or when she really puts her passion into them, they can be impressive. Only time will tell if she can parley her talent into a full blown popular music career. Given what she has accomplished on this album, it seems to me that Broadway and Vegas might be appropriate venues in the near future.

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About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

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