by Sophie Bauer-Schlichtegroll
On November 24th Katie Melua, together with the Gori Women’s Choir, will perform her forthcoming album In Winter (out October 14th), alongside select classics from her discography. Produced over six months in Georgia, her new release is an intimate, spellbinding ode to winter without a cheesy emphasis on holiday hits.
Compared to the likes of Joni Mitchell and Norah Jones, Katie Melua is not a new face on the folk-pop scene. This Georgian-British musician gained international musical stardom back in 2005 with her single Nine Million Bicycles. However things have changed since then (not only that we are probably 2 billion more light years away from the universe’s edge). While the singer-songwriter remains true to her sultry, blues-influenced vocals, twenty three additional female voices join her on this album and tour. The result is an alluring tribute to Georgian polyphonic singing - “they are essentially a vocal orchestra”, she said of the local choir.
This gig’s catalogue of original songs and respun traditional Ukrainian and Georgian carols bring the thematic worlds of seasonal and personal winter together. Melua believes the season to be “a beautiful time, but also a melancholic time, a reflective time”, and the diverse repertoire echoes this sentiment.
With her last six albums having been released by the label Dramatico, this creative jump also symbolises the start of her true solo career; and no better collaborator on this particular project than Bob Chilcott, the renowned choral composer. His involvement is clear from the minimalist punch: her own gentle guitar playing, layered with woven singing and topped with Melua’s own gentle yet powerful voice. Speaking to The Guardian of her collaboration with the local choir, “it’s like I’ve spent the last sixth months learning to sing again”, she said. The evening is set to be a captivating one, and not a reacquaintance to be missed.