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Katie Melua Katie Melua
Album: In Winter
Label: BMG
Tracks: 10

I signed up to review this album because I just love Katie's voice with its simplicity and charm. I then read a review which called it a Christmas album and I thought "no." As much as I love the whole Christmas event and time, I have to confess that I hate the music that is dusted off and brought out at that time of year and the whole idea of Christmas albums. The one exception for me was one by Nat King Cole many years ago. Anyway, this album is entitled "Winter" and is more about that time of the year than the actual festive period. It is also in one word, sublime!

So, Katie's album turned up and I started listening to it. The first thing to say is that it is a total masterpiece of choral and orchestral synchronisation with Katie's voice overlaid with her very own personal and unique crystal clarity. As many of the songs are sung in a foreign language it does not feel like a Christmas album although many of the songs are carols in their own homelands; these lands being Ukraine, Romania, Georgia and Russia. The last song on the album is the classis carol "O Holy Night" written by Adolph Adam, sung in English, and is the first song that Katie sang in her school carol service. Also instantly recognisable on this superb collection is Joni Mitchell's classic "River." Perhaps not quite as good as Joni's version but the choir and the single acoustic guitar give this beautiful piece of music a whole new feel.

The album features the Gori Women's Choir, a twenty four member women's choir, the voices of which perfectly complement Katie's soft tones. The harmonies are exquisite! The choir emanates from Katie's country of birth, Georgia where she also built a recording studio to produce this album.

One track, "Plane Song" is a story from Katie's childhood back in Georgia and time spent with her brother. It accurately depicts how a child's world and imagination can be such an adventure.

Katie together with her band and all the members of the Gori Women's Choir will go on tour on the 23rd November 2016 starting in Guilford. Nine dates later and with a fair bit of traveling thrown in will see the whole package arrive and perform in Glasgow. I have no doubt that this will provide a magical evening of high quality music based on a beautiful voice and fantastic choral harmony.

Rory Stanbridge