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The house has a place in my house
The House - Katie Melua
Member Name: hayley_dl
The House - Katie Melua
Date: 10/05/11, updated on 10/05/11 (45 review reads)
Advantages: something for almost everyone, a change (for the better) compared to her older albums
Disadvantages: none for me
Engineer - Rupert Coulson
Assistant Engineers - Nick Cervonaro, Olga Fitzroy
Producer - William Orbit
Copyist - Jill Streater
Vocals and Acoustic Guitar - Katie Melua
Drums - Henry Spinetti
Guitars - Luke Potashnick and Steve Donnelly
Bass - Tim Harries
Keyboards - Arden Hart
I'd Love To Kill You
A Happy Place
A Moment Of Madness
No Fear Of Heights
The One I Love Is Gone
Plague Of Love
God On Drums, Devil On The Bass
Background And My Opinion
This is Katie's fourth album and her first away from Mike Batt's influence as producer, instead this is produced by William Orbit and Mike Batts only mention is as a co-writer for God on drums, devil on the bass.
This album is noticeably different from her other three and in my humble opinion this is by far her best. There's enough of her old sound in there to keep her old fans attracted but also enough of a change and enough variety to attract new fans. When researching for this review I read that some tracks in this album wouldn't be out of place on the dance floor and I don't disagree. So, if you're expecting more of her old style songs you won't find it here. What you will find are songs that take a different angle but show off a different side to her voice and will make you fall in love with her music all over again.
I'd Love To Kill You -
She opens the album with a ballad about killing the person she loves. She explained during her concert that this was written when she experienced unrequited love and wanted the guy she loved to experience some of the pain she was feeling which I guess explains the lyrics!
Unfortunately however, I feel this is one of the weaker songs on the album and one I can't seem to get on with and so for me, is a poor choice for the opening song. That said, her voice suits ballads perfectly with a delicateness that, although maybe not suited to the lyrics(!) does fit well with this type of song.
I can see how the song would appeal to some people. The sound created in this ballad is linked to the sound of her other albums and maybe that's why she chose to open with this.
The Flood -
The flood is the first single off this album. According to www.katiemelua.com, Radio 2 presenter Janice Long described it as "the best thing Katie's done." Whilst this says a lot as some of her songs have been beautifully haunting and have touched me on a level no other song has been able to I do completely agree. This song is the main reason I bought the album.
It's one of those songs that has to be played as loud as possible, it just doesn't sound the same otherwise. (I'm sure my neighbours love me!)
This has a strong drum beat running throughout the majority of this song. Even from the first time you hear this you can't help but tap your foot along with it at the very least. The lyrics send out a very powerful message and I feel that the music and underlying beat fits them perfectly. About half the way through the song there's a definite change in both tempo and style, although the beat is still there and just as strong as in the beginning half it becomes more a dance track - please don't be put off by that! I don't like dance music at all but there's something about this that just works and fits with the first half perfectly.
A Happy Place -
This was the second single from the album and is another one with a strong underlying beat throughout most of the song. Although the beat is slower then the flood it shows through more because the lyrics are perfectly timed to have a word per beat.
The chorus interspersing each verse has a lighter feel to it and the beat, although carried through on the drums and bass guitar, is intentionally somewhat lost in the lyrics as they carry a more lilting feel. Taken separately I would never have said they'd fit together but they do, and perfectly well at that.
A Moment Of Madness -
A slower song then the previous two, reminding me of older songs that I would not have thought would be given any place in today's charts however Katie pulls it off. It's not one of my favourites on the CD and has taken me several times of listening to it to even decide that I like it.
Again this has quite a lilting feel to it and there is quite a range covered by Katie's vocals. I'd almost have placed the melody as a part of a circus tune rather then a pop song and there is at least one tempo and key change relatively close to the beginning of the song.
It's one of her shorter songs on this album at only 3:44, however had this been any longer it would have felt as if it was dragging. As it is the timing and the style makes for a song that will linger in your head for a long time.
Red Balloons -
Easily one of my favourite's from the album. For this song Katie's slowing it down again for the second real ballad on this album. Her vocals are haunting and the feeling in the song really shows through. She opens herself up for this song and it comes through as a sense of vulnerability.
The musical accompaniment is lost somewhat here with only the acoustic guitar being noticeable. There is also the bass, drums and keyboard providing background music but these are only really noticeable as I was listening for them for the sake of this review. The only really noticeable parts of this song are the lyrics and acoustic guitar but this is exactly the way it should be for a song of this nature and it's nice to "see" Katie's still willing to sing songs that open her up and appear as vulnerable as this one makes her.
Tiny Alien -
Tiny alien.. I've been dreading reviewing this one because it's a tricky one to describe. There is a clear beat to it which is carried through on the acoustic guitar. It starts off with just the acoustic guitar and Katie's voice but around a minute into the song, the keyboard and bass begin to join in as the tempo speeds up slightly.
Whilst the music is obviously important it's the lyrics of this song that got me as they're quite deep and ask a lot of questions that aren't easy to answer but are quite meaningful.
No Fear Of Heights -
Another haunting song from this album but in a completely different way to red balloons. The vocals are stronger and there's a confidence and strength that shines through in this song that you can't help but let affect you too.
It's got a relatively slow beat but the background music is strong, almost stronger then the vocals themselves at times but it's a beautifully moving and encouraging song.
The One I Love Is Gone -
This is a typical Katie style blues song that again reminds me somewhat of her earlier albums. The background music is soft and just that - background music, allowing Katie's vocals carry the song through which she does beautifully with a lilting style typical of her blues style.
Plague Of Love -
Unfortunately I really didn't like this song the first time I heard it and whilst it has grown on me slightly I still wouldn't say it's a song I particularly like. I'd rather skip it then play it. It wouldn't be out of place as a dance song - not a newer one but one you might find at a more old fashioned dinner dance. There's a definite beat that you can move to and the vocals and music work well together but unfortunately it's just not one that I can bring myself to like in particular.
God On Drums, Devil On The Bass -
As the name would suggest the drums and bass are the main instruments that carry this song through. It's another song with a strong beat carried through on all the instruments and the vocals with only certain words either lingering or dragging from one beat to another.
It's maybe slightly slow to be considered for a dance floor but I can see a radio edit being brought out as this song would work well in that situation. The vocals stretch across a wide range but are mainly focused on the middle range where she clearly feels more comfortable. There are a couple of places where she stretches her vocals maybe slightly lower then she can comfortably go as the strain can be heard. That said it's not necessarily a bad thing as it seems to fit with the rest of the song as it counterbalanced by stretching the vocals to the higher end of her range too.
The drums and bass are much more in the foreground for this song and carry the beat and even some of the tune through perfectly.
Another tricky one to describe but yet another that I love. The vocals sit on the higher end of her range and whilst the drums seem to carry a fairly fast beat the bass carries the 'true' beat of the song which is much slower then the other instrumentals would lead you to believe.
As far as I can tell the keyboard generally only plays one note at a time which is unusual for her and I wouldn't have usually put this style down as something I like but this is obviously an exception! It's an unusual song and like many others in this album you can tell that she's been experimenting with both her vocals and style with this song but as with most the other songs - it works.
The House -
Somehow the beginning of this song reminds me of Enya! It's beautifully haunting and sends shivers up my spine every single time I hear it. There's a slightly discordant feel to it most the way through but not so much to distract from the song itself just enough to catch and keep your attention.
Vocally this is handled brilliantly making full use of her beautifully soft and haunting voice. I know I keep describing this as 'haunting' but there is no other word to describe this song. It's a beautifully arranged song and extremely well performed. The instrumental almost seems to be a part of the vocals with them both carrying each other through rather then one being more dominant. Several times throughout the song she begins to reach a climax point in the song and her vocal beginning is finished off perfectly by the instruments.
A perfect song to end the album on.
So Should You Buy It?
As I said I bought my copy at the concert for £10. The RRP is £11.99 but HMV has it on sale for £4.99 and it can be downloaded from iTunes for £7.99.
Katie has clearly been experimenting with different styles and her vocal abilities for this album, maybe that's due to her change of producer maybe it was just time for a change after 7 years! Either way the changes have worked and worked well. There's enough in there to keep her old fans interested, some songs that remind us of her older style and some newer ones that just fit her voice perfectly. Yet there's also enough variety and enough change to attract a whole new set of fans too and therefore I am whole-heartedly recommending this album without any reservations on those who may not enjoy it.
If you're not sure each song is available in full on youtube.
Summary: a great CD well worth a listen