Melody Gardot - My one and only thrill
Melody Gardot in my humble opinion is one of the most sensual singer-songwriters that I have had the pleasure of discovering and the credit goes to a very good friend across the pond who sent the album my way as a birthday/Christmas gift.
Melody Gardot has a hauntingly beautiful voice and she sure knows how to express her work in the most melodious way, her style which is a combination of Pop, Folk, Jazz, Gypsy Jazz, Viennese Waltzes, Washboard Blues, and Bluegrass with hints of samba is most unique. She gravitates towards blues not because she is a blues singer but because of the sheer emotions she is able to put into her songs. Just like the melody itself, Melody does not restrict herself to a single genre, she crosses from one genre to another in the same song which will basically make her work very appealing to most listeners irrespective of which genre they belong to. She comes through like a breath of fresh air in the world of polluted music
According to Melody her influences include all those who resonate absolute soul and the list is long, including, but not limited to such artists as, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Andre Previn, John Lee Hooker, Janis Joplin, James Taylor, George Gershwin, Carole King, Elvis Costello, Chopin, Debussy, Stravinsky, Astor Piazolla, Charles Mingus et el.
On this album there is synergy between her singing and the music accompanying her voice, it could not have been better. The choice of instruments, the string arrangements, for which the credit goes to Vince Mendoza who is known for his work with Larry Klien on Joni Mitchell albums, and the lush orchestration make this a very pleasurable experience. The quality of recording is exemplary and no wonder the album was nominated a Grammy in the Best Engineered category (Al Shimitt).
Allow me to elaborate on some of the songs from the album “My one and only thrill”
The album starts with “Baby I'm a fool” which is a very intense love song and perhaps a very emotional one for the artist as one could feel the pain in her voice as she renders it.
“Who will comfort me” is a very catchy tune with a great rhythm arrangement and when the muted trumpet comes into play it is just perfect sounding, this instrument can in most cases sound shrill and piercing, not here, it is just the sound of trumpet that one wants to feed to their ears, it is breathtakingly beautiful.
The joy of giving is what this next song “If the stars were mine” is all about. Melody's philosophy in life is beautifully expressed in the exquisite poetry that she penned. The song has a very smooth flow and the beauty of the song is that she has a scatting style that is unique to her. She was only able to scat and hum the tune after her near fatal accident as she could not talk and she incorporated it here as well as in some other songs. There are two versions on the disc one without the string arrangement and one without at the end of the CD, both in their own right sound very good but I am more inclined towards the first one which is without the stings in the background and this is because a song with a latin beat does not necessarily require stings in the background, it sure can stand on its own two feet. This song proves that beyond any doubt.
“Your heart is as black as night” is the darkest of all the songs on this album. And proves her great skills as a first rate pianist as well.
“Les Etoiles” is a French song and her effortless style and authority to render a song in foreign language is very much evident here. No wonder the French have fallen head over heels when it come to Melody. Her album has already gone platinum in France and also did very well in many other parts of the world making her an Internationally acclaimed star.
The evergreen song “Over the rainbow” is so fresh that you may think it was written just yesterday for this album, Melody put her signature on this song and made it hers.
The sense of longing for the beloved in her works is intense and one can feel the emotional turmoil she may be going through considering her past, the breakup with her friend, the accident and divorce of her parents but she persevered against abject adversity. She got her fair share of bad luck at such a young age of just 25 which has made her more mature beyond her 25 years on the planet and it certainly reflects in her works, rather if I dare say it, works of art.
Her music that you listen to is in its most purest form, whether she is in a studio recording it and later you hear it on a record or she is singing live on stage in a concert and last but not least on a talk show. Her voice comes through with uncanny accuracy and sounds the same no matter what the venue. How many artists you have heard thus far can sound like that to you? If you happen to be an audiophile like yours truly you got to experience this album on tube amplification and planar speakers, it will render goosebumps even on the soles of your feet and not just all over your body.
This album was produced by Larry Klien (ex-husband of Joni Mitchell) who is himself an accomplished musician and has him playing bass on three of the tracks here. He has gone on to mainly produce albums for quiet a few female singer-songwriters. He also produced Grammy winning Herbie Hancock's album River: The Joni Letters. In 2010 Klein was nominated for Producer of the Year for the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards for production on several albums. This album is produced to near perfection as any album could possibly be.
Melody was asked by an interviewer “You are very young at 24, what is the greatest lesson life has taught you thus far? Her response was, “The greatest joy that any of us will ever experience is from serving others, so when you serve others and then you serve yourself your life is enriched” Melody is serving her best to you in the shape of enchanting music and that too on a silver platter, should you not acknowledge her gift by giving her a listen? Quoting the very words from a a very dear friend who I share the love of music with “If chocolate could be heard, rather than tasted........it would sound like Melody Gardot!”