Katie Melua Gets Her Groove Back on 'Secret Symphony'
The last time I did a post about Georgian-born British songbird, Katie Melua, she was gearing up for the release of her fifth studio album entitled Secret Symphony. The album was originally scheduled for release last November, however longtime label, Dramatico Records, pushed it back, not wanting to rush the star with promotional duties. As eager as I was to hear new material, this was probably a wise decision on the part of Dramatico, especially given Melua's recent health issues. Prior to the new album news breaking, Melua was hospitalized in the fall of 2010 for six weeks for exhaustion, with all promotion of The House, her brilliant William Orbit-produced album, put on hold indefinitely. In a recent interview with The Telegraph, Melua reveals that she didn't work for a whole six months, putting her health first and taking care of herself. Now, with Melua reported to be healthy and in good spirits, Secret Symphony is scheduled for release on March 5th, preceded by the first single, "Better Than A Dream," which has already been added to BBC Radio 2's A List. AMAZING. Check out a live performance of the stunning new single, below.
As beautiful as the new material seems to be, I'm a bit disappointed that Melua so quickly abandoned the fresh and unique sounds she experimented with on The House. When Melua released her fourth album, I was thrilled to see the international megastar pushing her creative boundaries and trying something completely different. Despite The House debuting at a respectable #4 on the UK Album Charts, the album only produced one top 10 hit and is regarded as her least successful album to date. Pity, because while selling lots of albums is a key component of an artist's success, I also think that experimentation and creativity play into it as well.
For me, The House is one of my favorite albums from 2010, combining modern electronic beats with Melua's trademark smooth-as-silk folk/pop vocals. William Orbit (Madonna, "Ray of Light") is a master at his craft and the very fact that he collaborated with with one of my favorite vocalists of the past 10 years is brilliant, and I'm not taking the existence of that collaboration for granted one bit. That being said, I'm absolutely looking forward to Melua returning to her musical comfort zone and her continued success. Melua spoke with The Daily Mail recently about the new album, saying:
"I have recorded all of my albums with orchestras before but this is the first time where I wanted to focus on the orchestra and make it an orchestral based album - and so the song Secret Symphony was born out of that idea. "With regards to making the difficult choice of what single to release first, Melua added:
"I have always been rubbish at picking singles so I always let the people around me help me to decide what the best first song is. It’s just a case of playing it to people and seeing what they react to and what strikes their fancy and this was the song that people reacted to really well."Joining forces with longtime collaborator, Mike Batt, the new record sees Melua returning to her comfort zone, the very sound that made her such a success in the first place and I see nothing wrong with that. Check out this recently released promo video of a new album song, "The Bit That I Don't Get," which features behind the scenes footage and a bit from her recent live performance at London's Ronnie Scott's. In addition to collaborating with Batt, Melua also worked with Fran Healy (of Travis) and Ron Sexsmith and even wrote one song herself, entitled "Forgetting All My Troubles." According to Melua,
"I wanted to make quite an effortless record,” she says. “The last album was quite a challenge and there was a lot of soul-searching. This time, I just wanted to sing.”The plan, as of right now is to tour in the Fall and then take a much needed break. It looks like Melua has learned the importance of taking things easy and not pushing herself to the extreme. Says the singer/songwriter,
"I will take a few months off. Maybe make a family, although nothing is planned. I’m going to do things differently from now on."In addition to new music coming out, Melua has shared some exciting news pertaining to her personal life as well. Katie recently debuted a beautiful diamond ring and announced her engagement to former World Superbike champion James Toseland. The couple started dating last April after meeting at one of her concerts. After suffering a career-ending injury that left both of his wrists broken, Toseland started to dabble in music himself, becoming an accomplished pianist and playing his way into Melua's heart. It sounds like things are really coming together, both professionally and personally. I hope that Melua finds the time/energy to promote Secret Symphony here in the States, but as long as she's happy and healthy that's all that really matters in the end. Secret Symphony is due out via Dramatico on March 5th.
Check out Katie Melua on the web: