Katie Melua

By Peter Hemminger

After the success of Norah Jones, it’s not surprising to see other fresh-faced young women following the promise of the jazz/blues/pop crossover. Katie Melua found success in Britain with just that approach, her debut album Call Off The Search receiving the same marketing push that turned Jones into an international sensation.

What Melua attempts, she does well. Her voice is a touch thin, but is expressive, consistently on pitch, and possesses a good range. She chooses songs outside the expected, including a Randy Newman tune (“I Think It’s Going To Rain Today”), and James Shelton’s haunting “Lilac Wine”.

But Melua doesn’t attempt much beyond covering the songs as her interpretations never feel like her own. Nice as her voice is, Melua never plays with phrasing the way her jazz and blues idols did. She plays it too safe.

Granted, safety often leads to success in the adult contemporary world, and Melua herself is still young. The off-centered song selections and her solo songwriting credit for two of the album’s tracks both hint to Melua’s potential for growth, being only nineteen when the album was released.

As it stands, Call Off The Search is inoffensive enough to work in the background of a wine and candlelight dinner, but not much beyond that.

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