‘Ultimate Collection’ commemorates the 15 years since Katie Melua released her debut album, ‘Call Off The Search’, which topped the charts and set her on course to become the best selling female artist in the UK and Europe of 2006. The album contains 30 songs from her 7 studio albums, as well as her cover of ‘Fields Of Gold’, which she recorded in 2017 as the Children In Need single, and two brand new recordings – ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, synonymous with Shirley Bassey and James Bond; and the Simon and Garfunkel classic, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’.
The album is everything you’d expect from Melua. Even if you don’t think you know any of her songs beyond ‘Nine Million Bicycles’, the one for which she’s most famous, and conveniently opens the album – you do. There’s a lot more covers than we’d expected, but it’s overall a great mix of tracks, ranging from the autobiographical, ‘Plane Song’, and ‘Belfast (Penguins And Cats)’, to the classics – the afore-mentioned covers, as well as others such as ‘In My Secret Life’, originally by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson, and ‘What A Wonderful World’, which sees Melua joined by Eva Cassidy, the contrast between their voices both striking and gorgeous.
Melua’s entire discography gets a look-in on the new release, including several from her most recent album, ‘In Winter’, which saw her return to her native Georgia to record with the Gori Women’s Choir, a native Georgian all-woman singing troupe. The tracks she recorded there are interesting in how much they reveal about her life before she moved to the UK at the age of 9. ‘Plane Song’, for example, gives an insight into her childhood. In speaking to Surrey Downs Magazine, Melua said, that she
“recalls playing with her brother in the rusty Soviet aircraft that littered Georgian fields after the civil war of the early 1990s.”
In the same interview she speaks about ‘A Time To Buy’, which features on the first CD:
“I’d just turned nine when we moved to Belfast,” she explains. “Only my dad spoke English and my mum didn’t know how to shop. We didn’t have packaged food in Georgia: everything was straight from the farm or the market. So many things were a culture shock.”
The track features the backing vocals of the Gori Women’s Choir, adding a nice contrast between her life in the East and the West.
Overall, ‘Ultimate Collection’ is a win whether you’re a fan of Melua or not. There’s something for everyone in the album: covers; originals; hard-hitting tracks that make you think; and laid-back relaxed jazz style ones you can chill to. The release comes ahead of Melua’s new tour, which sets off on 24 October in Stockholm, and winds up on December 13 in Edinburgh. The tour will include a cast of stellar musicians, as well as members of the Gori Women’s Choir, and support from up and coming Irish-Jordanian artist, Keeva. Full details are available on Katie Melua’s official website.
‘Ultimate Collection’, from Katie Melua, is available to pre-order from Amazon.