With her debut album Worrisome Heart, Melody Gardot displayed her instinctive gift for transforming the traditions of jazz and blues with “her personal kiss of life.”
But even her most ardent admirers will be amazed at the giant creative leap forward she has taken with the follow-up, My One and Only Thrill. Mixing Latin rhythms, finger-snapping blues and deep, smoldering torch songs, it’s an album that seems to have been shaped from several lifetimes of love, loss and longing.
Though she’s still only in her early twenties, the rapturous reception accorded to Worrisome Heart by fans and critics meant that she suddenly found her life moving at triple speed, as Melody and her band bounced between gigs, hotels and airports as demand blossomed across several continents.
“We were touring for nine months, though sometimes I’d have a week off if I was lucky,” she explains, in between bites of sushi. “But in reality, I never really had time ‘off’ because I was making the new record in between touring. That process was daunting, but beautiful too, because it gave me the opportunity to work and think, and work and think again, so I could reflect back rather than having to make constant snap decisions. It was an interesting way to approach making a record.”
Despite her exacting schedule, she made sure that her plans for My One and Only Thrill had been painstakingly laid. “We walked into the studio with all the songs written, which was important because you need to have a good idea about how the record’s going to be. You need to have an idea, work it up with the musicians and get the rhythm tracks right. Then you can decide which songs need strings and which ones can live without them. It’s a process of stripping down what you’re doing to make room for something else--essentially dividing it in half to make room for the orchestra.” T
his meant that members of her band – take a bow Ken Pendergast (bass), Patrick Hughes (trumpet) and Bryan Rogers (sax)--often had to play with even more restraint than usual, though thanks to the rapport they’ve built up during months of performing together, she wouldn’t want to go into the studio without them. “It was as if someone was saying to them ‘you could play all this stuff, but I want you to do absolutely nothing!’” she says, laughing. “Yet it was perfect because these are all my guys, and that makes the record special. I think what makes a record great is to have people around you who are instinctively in your head-space and know what you need for those tunes. These guys have played with me long enough to know that without even thinking.”
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