Katie Melua – Acoustic Album No. 8
Katie Melua was recently recognised by BBC Radio 2 as one of the 30 Biggest Selling Female Artists because her debut album has been certified 56 times platinum worldwide. Melua released Call Off The Search when she was only 19. That was just 11 years after moving to the UK from the former Sviet republic of Georgia. She’s had seven more UK Top Ten albums since then.
During lockdown, Katie Melua collaborated with her brother Zurab Melua to share acoustic music. Therefore, he was the obvious choice for producer when Katie decided to release an acoustic version of her acclaimed 2020 Album No. 8. She explained: “Zurab has a brilliant mind and we were able to do everything (apart from mastering) at home, which is in a beautiful part of London. I think the tranquility and the green park around the area is part of the atmosphere on the record.”
The opening track, Joy, fairly describes the feeling that accompanies the return of Katie Melua’s pure voice. The song is simple but explores unexpected notes and tempos.
English Manner is sassy in sound and unexpected in narrative: “he loves me/his wife’s hair had golden ripples…when I asked him did he love me better?/he didn’t even look at me.”
The melody of Leaving The Mountain echoes the undulating journey described in the song. It really showcases Melua’s effortless vocal control.
Voices In The Night cements the feeling that this is a seasonally appropriate album, perfect for staving off winter chill with smooth jazz instrumentation and Melua’s warming vocal.
Next up is Maybe I Dreamt It. Gentle strings swirl for almost a minute so we can savour the work of Grammy winning violinist Simon Goff. She offers a particularly wonderful note at the halfway point as we follow her through her musings.
The album’s second single, Heading Home, is beautiful in its simplicity and audible longing. Melua explained that it’s “about a certain feeling every year when my family and I would fly back to Georgia to see my grandparents … It was always bittersweet, moving to the West meant so much for my family but missing home was just part of the deal. I wanted to see if I could capture in a song both that melancholy and excitement to see the homeland again.”
Your Longing Is Gone is more upbeat but the tension is palpable; we’re hearing about the final hours of a relationship: “maybe it’s because I gave you too much of what you were needing/but the real reasons are fading.”
Airtime is calmer but mines similar themes: “I think we’ve given love too much airtime,” although this time it’s speaking to someone else who seems to be rushing into a new relationship too quickly. The vocal is calm but the sentiment is sharp: “what if it’s still him when you lie down?”
Remind Me To Forget is another collaboration with violinist Simon Goff. The song is full of natural, autumnal imagery. Leaves change, die, and disappear; so do relationships.
No Better Magic is observational and produced to give the feeling that Melua is right there with you, commenting on the winter scene you’re watching. Her vocal is sultry, calming, and utterly captivating – much like the record itself.
Acoustic Album No. 8 ends with A Love Like That. It’s simultaneously meta and a commentary on a one-sided relationship: “this isn’t real/you don’t even know me/how am I what you’re thinking of?”
Katie Melua – Acoustic Album No. 8 is out now.
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