It was the late Eva Cassidy who first drew Katie Melua and her songwriting partner Mike Batt together. Independently, both had discovered Cassidy's posthumously released album Songbird, and when they met, it was their mutual admiration for the late American singer that led to their decision to work together.
Batt played Melua this song at one of their first rehearsals. "As soon as I heard it, I loved it," she recalled. "It was perfect, intact, complete – Mike played it on a piano, with no other accompaniment, and I realized how few songs around at that time you could do that with."
Then Mike said he wanted to make an album that was quite retro in style and orchestral-based," Melua continued. "When I heard 'retro,' I was in because that summed up all the music I was listening to at the time."
The following weekend the pair had their first proper session at Batt's recording studio and they laid down this song along with three others. "Because we got on so well, Mike gave me the freedom to experiment with his songs," Melua recalled. "I still remember when he asked me to improvise 'Call Off The Search'. As a singer, it is rare to be given that freedom. At the end of the session, Mike said he wanted to sign me."
The song served as the title track of Melua's debut album, Call Off the Search, released by Mike Batt's Dramatico Records. The record's second single, it peaked at #19 on the UK singles chart.