Top positive review
84 people found this helpful
on 22 May 2010
Katie Melua's fourth studio album, and her first away from the guiding influence of Mike Batt, a collaboration that has produced some fabulous music over the last five years. It seems this has been something of a double-edged sword for the artist. In my humble opinion she is a supremely gifted singer and no mean songwriter either, but her critics have always used the "Batt factor" as an excuse to undermine her worth. I hope I am wrong, but it seems to me she may have felt this a little too, grateful for the mentoring, musicianship and astounding song-writing talent of Mr Batt, but feeling in latter years that she still needs to prove herself as an individual. If that was the case, then it is a testament to her ambition and dedication that somebody who has already penned such heartbreakingly beautiful songs as "Faraway Voice", "Piece By Piece" and "I Cried For You" should still feel the need to prove her writing ability.
Melua's songs don't always grab one instantly. In fact I have initially dismissed several as duds. But it is always the same - after a couple of plays they begin to haunt my brain like some strange, beautiful ghost.
The House certainly hasn't let me down. In fact I think it is superb. Lyrically clever, haunting, diverse and full of subtle melodies, there is plenty here to please the old Melua fans, but enough diversification from her past style to gain many new ones (and hopefully some younger ones!) William Orbit's production is certainly evident, and some passages wouldn't be out of place in a club. I especially liked the little vocal quirks which are dotted throughout the songs, which only someone of Melua's talent and range could pull off effectively. In fact, in places it put me in mind of Kate Bush's vocal experimentation - and that's no bad thing.
You may not enjoy Melua's particular style, and that is down to individual taste. But for me this album proves there can be no doubt about her talent as a writer of songs.
You may suspect I am a fan of Katie Melua's music, and of course you would be right.
I for one hope that she keeps producing albums as good as "The House" (and her previous three albums) for many years to come. But whatever I say won't make any difference. You will either like something or you won't, and the only way to find out is to listen to it.
But in my opinion, pure talent, with or without Mr Batt.