Melody Gardot - Absence - CD -
While so many of today’s retro-styled chanteuses look and sound the part when they’re singing, they often break the spell when talking (or, bless her, in Adele’s case, when laughing). But 27-year-old Melody Gardot doesn’t just deliver her smoky, speakeasy jazz like a vintage vixen – she also wisecracks like Lauren Bacall. “When people compare me to Norah Jones,” she once remarked, “I say that she wins Grammys and I act like one. I move slowly and I’m a bit of an old soul.” Referring to her trademark look she said, “Musicians are a bit strange and bizarre anyway, though, so the cane, glasses and moon boots are a bit of a hit.”
If you missed Gardot’s remarkable story when she released her debut, Worrisome Heart, in 2006, or the bestselling My One and Only Thrill in 2009, then here’s the quick version. She was knocked off of her bicycle when she was 19, suffered a broken pelvis and severe head and spinal injuries which have left her with memory problems, an unusual sense of time and a hypersensitivity to light. She had begun playing the piano in Philadelphia bars when she was 16 so one of her doctors suggested music therapy. She taught herself the guitar in hospital and – unable to tolerate the louder music she’d enjoyed before her accident – began writing quiet, jazzy songs.
Her sultry third album plays like a late-night, gipsy travelogue spiced with world music influences reflecting, we are told, “time spent in the deserts of Morocco, the tango bars of Buenos Aires, the beaches of Brazil and the streets of Lisboa”.
Produced by Brazilian composer and guitarist Heitor Pereira, and woven from wafts of intricately picked acoustic guitar, heat-hazy flutes and silky strings, it’s music that moves with the soft, supple drama of a flamenco dancer’s fan. Songs of wandering souls and aching hearts are embroidered with klezma clarinet, moody drifts of harmonica and castanet flourishes. Gardot’s dusky voice smoulders as it slinks and scats through the mix – never breaking a sweat but always in control as she sings in English, French and Portuguese.
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