Born in New Jersey, Gardot’s early years were spent on the road and abroad, living out of suitcases. That wanderlust informs her now. She began playing music aged nine years old and as a teenager she was performing in Philadelphia bars, becoming a virtual jukebox who could get under the skin of artists she adored, be that The Mamas & The Papas or Radiohead, as well as the great classic standard writers from the golden age of shellac. She had a life-altering moment in 2003 when out cycling. She was hit head-on by a motorist and suffered serious injuries that left her virtually immobilised for a year. But that didn’t deter this remarkable young woman and she taught herself guitar and began to write her own songs as a form of personal therapy. It worked. The soothing soul of sound became her friend and her rehabilitation was enhanced by exposure to the luscious music of Stan Getz and the Brazilian beach songs of the late 1950s / early 1960s.
As her powers of movement, speech and memory flooded back so her creativity expanded and early forays into the studio produced Some Lessons: The Bedroom Sessions, an autobiographical account of her state of body and mind that would be the basis for her debut album Worrisome Heart (2006). The diary entry approach suited her style and the title track was released to promote the main disc, soon rising up Billboard’s Smooth Jazz Songs chart and making inroads into the Japanese market.
Musically the album showcases her trilling voice and sumptuous melodies. Assisted by Ron Kerber’s horns, Mike Brenner’s lap steel and Matt Cappy’s muted trumpet Gardot lays down a marker here. Listen to the depth and charm of “Love Me Like a River Does” and marvel at the aching intimacy of “Sweet Memory” or “Quiet Fire.” This is very high-class music indeed.
Live From SoHo, Gardot's second extended player (an iTunes exclusive from 2009) continues her smart style and habit of trailing her new material to hone it to perfection. Recorded live in New York City, “Baby I’m a Fool” and “Who Will Comfort Me” draw one in with careful scat singing, finger-snapping rhythms and a percussive thrust that is impossible to resist.
The resulting second album, My One and Only Thrill, took her to the West Coast – Capitol Studios, Stage and Sound and Santa Monica’s funky Market Street room, where she clicked with producer Larry Klein and offers us a jazz and blues classic. No doubt. Available with variant bonus Deluxe extras, including a Live in Paris session (where her versions of Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and her own“The Rain” set up the mood) the main event is also blessed by her take on “Over the Rainbow” and the Gardot/Harris number “Our Love is Easy”. It is all subtle and enchanting so no wonder the sales indicate Gold in many territories and Platinum in France, Germany, Norway, Poland and Sweden – places where chanson and cool jazz are revered.
With her own songs like “Baby I’m a Fool” seemingly becoming standards overnight, Gardot took time off to record The Absence (2012) with producer Heitor Pereira, the Brazilian musician whose work has graced Simply Red, Sting, Elton John, Rod Stewart, k.d. lang and Jack Johnson. All that travel time pays dividends here as Melody Gardot expands her fan base abroad and conquers the US Jazz charts by hitting the #1 spot. We’d urge you to discover this as an entire entity – it’s one of those albums you want to hear all the way through. And then repeat. If it’s invidious to have favourites we can’t get over “Amalia” and the closing “lemanja” where the segue into hidden track “Cheque Journeyman” flows into a lengthy and miasmic work out.
Again her choice of sidemen proves impeccable. On Thrill… she kept it in-house with piano, guitar and voice dominating proceedings while on The Absence we find specialists like Yamandu Costa on guitar, Hamilton De Holanda on mandolin, Paulhino Dacosta’s percussion and the drumming masters Peter Erskine and Jim Keltner – as well as full strings and horns. This is a terrific disc and really deserves urgent discovery, that is if you haven’t made Gardot’s acquaintance already.
A high summer tour is in the offing and we recommend a visit to Melody’s own site where she explains how “Music therapy is part of my life and was an important part of my recovery.”
Like the best of spell-casting singers she draws the listener in and provides a warm and seductive resting place. She is a remarkable artist and we’re pleased to offer her music here. Get some Melody into your life.
Words: Max Bell
Melody Gardot's 2006 debut, Worrisome Heart, was greeted with warmly enthusiastic reviews that never failed to mention Gardot's musical similarities to Norah Jones and Madeleine Peyroux, or her sadly compelling story of surviving a severe hit-and-run accident at the age of 19. The tragedy gave critics an irresistible hook, and the musical similarities -- which also include her vocal resemblance to Fiona Apple's smoky tones -- gave new listeners a familiar touchstone, but both merely provided an entry into a fine, accomplished debut. Released three years later, Gardot's second album, My One and Only Thrill, proves that the first was no fluke; it doesn't build upon the debut so much as it sustains its quality. Like before, My One and Only Thrill is built primarily on Gardot originals (a fine version of "Over the Rainbow" that closes the album being the only exception) that seamlessly blend sultry, late-night jazz blues, singer/songwriter introspection, and sophisticated pop melodies. If anything, My One and Only Thrill emphasizes Gardot's chanteuse qualities, feeling like more of a jazz album than its predecessor, thanks both to its languid atmosphere and also Gardot's phrasing, which elegantly elongates her melodies and slips into scat. These are slight, subtle progressions but what impresses is how thoroughly My One and Only Thrill lives up to the promise of her debut, offering another album that is as enchanting in its sound as it is in its substance.
Words: Stephen Thomas Erlewine
If Melody Gardot's 2009 sophomore effort, My One and Only Thrill, sustained the sultry, atmospheric vibe of her critically acclaimed 2006 debut, her 2012 follow-up, The Absence, is a bit of a creative departure for the vocalist. Apparently inspired by her world travels, and specifically by a trip that brought her to the desert around the city of Marrakech, the album moves her away from smoky, small-group jazz and into a bright, if still bedroom-eyed, rhythmically exotic sound. Produced by guitarist/composer Heitor Pereira, the album is a lush, somewhat orchestral album that finds Gardot delving into various Brazilian, Spanish, and African-influenced sounds -- including bits of samba, tango, bossa nova, and calypso -- that evince her global journey. However, rather than simply making a standards album, Gardot continues her all-original approach, offering up new literate and passionately delivered compositions that bring to mind the work of such similarly inclined artists as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Paul Simon, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and others. Although there are a few name musicians who help add spice to Gardot's musical caravan here, including percussionist Paulinho Da Costa, drummer Peter Erskine, and bassist John Leftwich, primarily it is still Gardot's burnished and yearning vocal style that takes the helm on these tracks.
Words: Matt Collar
Melody Gardot's debut recording, released in 2006, came two years after she suffered a near fatal automobile accident, the differently able Gardot triumphing in accomplishing what many others, including her, could only dream of. This project has her singing and playing guitar and a little piano, but more so presenting this project of all original material. Gardot has an interesting personal story, but even more intriguing music that straddles the line between lounge jazz, folk, and cowgirl songs. She's part sophisticated chanteuse, college sophomore, and down-home girl next door. Her innocence, sweetness, and light are very alluring, much like the persona of tragic songbirds Eva Cassidy and Nancy LaMott. Feel empathy for Gardot, but don't patronize her -- she's the real deal much more that many of her over-hyped peers. "Quiet Fire" is definitely her signature tune, as it speaks volumes of where her soul is at, in a jazz/blues mode, yearning for true love. The title track follows a similar tack, a slow, sweet, sentimental slinky blues that will melt your heart. A finger-snapping "Goodnite" leaves you wanting that night to continue, but also exudes a hope that permeates the entire recording. She might be a bit down on men during the nonplussed "All That I Need Is Love," but her subdued optimism glows cool. "Sweet Memory" might possibly parallel Feist or perhaps KT Tunstall in a rural country mode, while "Gone" is clearly folkish, and the slow "Some Lessons" expresses a contemporary Nashville precept. The laid-back music behind Gardot is basically acoustic, incorporating hip jazz instrumentation, especially the trumpet of Patrick Hughes and occasional organ, Wurlitzer, or Fender Rhodes from Joel Bryant, but with twists including violin, lap steel, and Dobro. The concise nature of this recording and these tunes perfectly reflects the realization that life is precious, every moment counts, and satisfaction is fleeting. Likely to be placed in the Norah Jones/Nellie McKay/Madeleine Peyroux pseudo jazz/pop sweepstakes, Gardot offers something decidedly more authentic and genuine. She's one-upped them all out of the gate.
Words: Michael G. Nastos
Live from SoHo is a live EP by jazz singer-songwriter Melody Gardot. It was released exclusively on iTunes on March 24, 2009. It features six tracks that were recorded in early March in New York City, at the Apple Store in SoHo.
This album accurately captures the magic of Melody's live performances. I remember first hearing her song as an iTunes pick of the week, which for my tastes are hit and miss. "Worrisome Heart" instantly grasped my attention and left an indelible impression. After hearing her sing live at Jazz Alley in Seattle, I can attest to the fact that what you hear is very real. She actually sounded better live than the studio recording if that's possible! 🙂 This live album accurately captures the nuances, skill, and passion of her talents. A quick note on her story- after she was hit by a car while on her bike, she had a long recovery in the hospital and music was integral to her recovery. The accident left her walking mostly with a cane and with incredibly sensitive eyes and ears. Yet she tours on stage under bright lights and with loud PA systems! While in Seattle she stayed behind for an hour and a half to meet people and posed for pictures with everyone. Knowing the sensitivity of her eyes, I checked when I got home, and she had her eyes fully open, flash and all. Her talent and dedication are unmatched in my firsthand experience.
Melody is utterly fantastic! This live performance captures her raw, sincere talent. If she was better marketed to the world, her gift would be known to all, including the jazz greats. I have all of her music that is out there and I must say, "Baby I'm a Fool" is one of the most favorite tunes in my entire life!! At the very least, this live performance deserves a listen. Then you WILL buy it. Melody...Please do not let anyone try to get you to change what you are doing.
What a superb voice Melody Gardot has, and this small live collection of songs recorded in New York is both intimate and moving. She has a relaxed air to her that echoes throughout this recording, making her music stand-out with beauty. I am fast becoming a big fan of Melody Gardot.