In England, folks don’t go to the movies; they go to the pictures. Hence the title of this latest palette of originals from prodigiously talented, 23-year-old U.K. pop-jazz sensation Katie Melua, on which she paints a dozen screen-inspired images. Some are literally cinematic, like the opening “Mary Pickford,” which whimsically but respectfully tells of the formation of United Artists by silent-era icons Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith, and “Scary Films,” a charmingly inventive homage to a new lover who provides cozy protection from nightmare-inducing Hollywood monsters.
Some seem to take specific classic films as their narrative jumping-off point, including the whirling “Spellbound” (whose therapeutically romantic theme parallels that of Hitchcock’s bizarre psychological drama from the mid-’40s) and the wistful “What I Miss About You,” which seems a slightly modernized interpretation of the beloved British melodrama Brief Encounter. Still others—“It’s All In My Head,” “If the Lights Go Out,” “Perfect Circle,” “In My Secret Life” and the captivating “If You Were a Sailboat”—evoke various sorts of the fantasizing and wish-fulfillment that lifetimes of Tinseltown plotlines (and happy endings) have taught us all to engage in. Together, they represent a masterful achievement that’s as sweet and funny as it is intelligent and engaging.