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Katie Melua, Ultimate Collection - album review

By Leigh Sanders | Music | Published:

There is something nicely symmetrical about this new collection from Katie Melua.

The Ultimate Collection by Katie Melua

Two CDs of 15 of her favourite tracks - compiled by Katie herself - to celebrate 15 years since her debut record Call Off The Search hit the shelves.

There are a couple of bonuses thrown in at the end to extend the second CD, but mostly these are taken from across her seven studio albums so will be familiar to her fans across the patch.

Firstly, the well-knowns. Her singles such as Nine Million Bicycles, The Closest Thing To Crazy and What A Wonderful World recorded over the late Eva Cassidy's version of the track need little introduction.

The latter of these, released in aid of the British Red Cross in 2007, reached the top of the charts - her only track to do so and Cassidy's too. It is one of the most beautiful tracks on this collection.

The Closest Thing To Crazy remains most people's go-to when they think of Melua, even if it drags on a little too long, while Nine Million Bicycles is a pretty bizarre construct lyrically but musically it is a relaxingly placid strut through acoustic fields.

The problem is is that all of her music is. So 30 (plus three) tracks of this style get a little bland quite early on in the experience. Melua is talented, there is no doubt, and her softly plush vocals are anything but offensive. It's just, if you aren't normally inclined to such soft musical pallets you will be screaming for something different by the end of the first disc.

The real treasures are in the bonus material. Her version of Bridge Over Troubled Water, recorded with The Gori Women's Choir and the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra, is a welcome rethink of the Simon and Garfunkel hit with its echoing sound.

Her version of Diamonds Are Forever is a little weaker. Her timid approach to the sound actually takes away a lot of the power of the track.

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But she is saved again with Fields of Gold, also covered by Cassidy of course, giving real heartfelt feeling in this version she released as the 2017 Children In Need single.

Her fans will love this. But steer clear if you like more bite in your music.

Rating: 6/10

Katie Melua will be performing all her hits and more at Birmingham's Symphony Hall on November 30

Leigh Sanders

By Leigh Sanders
@LSanders_Star

Senior sub editor for the MNA portfolio and entertainments writer leaning towards features and reviews. Get releases to me at leigh.sanders@expressandstar.co.uk

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