I promised I’d do some music content on here and now it’s arrived. Below is my review of the new Katie Melua album.
With a voice that just envelopes you in it’s mellifluous delivery and unaffectedly strong nuance, Katie Melua is one of those artists who you feel puts her soul into her work. Her music has always had a different ambience to it, probably stemming from her mixture of pop, smidgeons of jazz and influences of her homeland Georgia. This is most definitely the case with her first album in four years Album No.8; an excellent compendium of songs charting rising and falling love, daydreams and heart on sleeve confessions. She’s recently separated from her husband of many years, but the wise Melua is not making a record that’s purely a pity party. Far from it in fact when one really listens to the lyrical content of Album No.8. Yes I’m sure some of her personal life covered recording of this record, but it is never bombastic or even in your face about it. Instead, her voice is so inviting and tells stories, which completely sells her music beautifully. It never bellows, belts or grows incredibly loud, instead delivering words in an evocative hush that’s bewitching to the ears. If you’ve been ambivalent on Katie’s music in the past, be prepared to reevaluate that assessment with this record.
We open with the string laden ‘A Love Like That’ that bristles with a 60’s ambience and something of a Bond movie sound to it. One can imagine the dark haired Miss Melua performing this in a swish casino or nightclub as intrigue unfolds around her. It’s a lush and cinematic opener that acts as the first indicator of the themes explored here; love, loss, memories and reflection. It’s one of many standout tracks on a record that brims with them. ‘English Manner’ presents a suitably intriguing narrative, pertaining to a love triangle in a refined space . Once more there is something cinematic and haunting about this track that sounds jaunty at first before evolving into an instrumental that’s both arresting to the ears and slightly dangerous too.
Dream like imagery is evoked in the sensationally ethereal ’Leaving the Mountain’ . Taking us on a personal, magical and beautiful journey through a memory of “a forest buried in ice” and “crisp Edelweiss”, Melua’s voice once more entices you in with its gentle observation in phrasing and eloquent ability to reach into the soul on what is one of my favourite on the album. It’s the kind of song you can close your eyes to while listening and be swept up in it’s description. Coupled with the choral strains of ‘Heading Home’, Melua revisits her Georgian heritage and memories of childhood splendidly with an adult understanding of teenage years. The song features a choir in the background, whose voices blend and back up Melua’s already serene voice to otherworldly levels. A country jangle is present in ‘Joy’ that swifts you along on its travels of personal growth, while the gently healing ‘Maybe I Dreamt It’ acts as a great follow up to the aforementioned track.
The jazz infused ‘Voices In The Night’ conjures up a smoky club with slow dancing and red wine. It’s probably the track on here that’s something a little change of pace and I like it for it’s faster tempo and somewhat seductive tone in comparison from the rest of the songs. And that’s meant in the best way possible and is in no way a slight on the part of the slower numbers, those are something special to and form the exemplary backbone of the record.
We find the chanteuse her on reflective form on ‘ Your Longing Is Gone’, that becomes a bittersweet ode to love and loss is a gorgeously performed song that works it’s quiet yet powerful brand of emotion on you. Like the best on the album, the tone here is struck between breezy and melancholy. The slow and slinky ‘Airtime’ ponders how much time is spent on love and its immense pressures for all involved. It’s a resounding success of a song that’s enticing as it is ruminating; burrowing itself into your mind with its lyrical content and languid sound. Rounding out the record is ‘Remind Me to Forget’ that closes things with a pensive and growing ever closer hope of what lies ahead for her . A pleasing end to the album that feels exactly like the soul lifting following hardship with nuanced strengths. My last point of note is that credit in Album No. 8 must also be extended to the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra who provide the beautiful flourishes to this record that compliment Melua’s already substantial talent and tapestry.
So in a nutshell, Album No.8 is a personal and professional triumph for the talented Katie Melua. She’s baring her soul on this record but not in a trite or hackneyed way. Her main focus is to make this album one that opens her up to the listener with imagination and grace. Some could say that the music is just more of the same from Melua, but I think this album has more of a honest touch to it that marks it out as her most mature and detailed work to date. Just sit back, soak up the gorgeous atmosphere of reflection and enjoy its sublime aura from Katie Melua.