Melody Gardot: Worrisome Heart

Gardot may not be a jazz singer in strict terms but her 2006 debut, here reissued, showed a convincing command of the American songbook

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It feels like Melody Gardot has been on the music scene for a very long time and recorded extensively. But she is still relatively young at 38 and it was only in 2006 that her first album, Worrisome Heart, was released. That was followed a year later by My One And Only Thrill and then The Absence (2012) and Currency Of Man (2015). Sunset In The Blue (2020) was a much-modified recording because of the start of the pandemic, with musicians contributing their parts from studios around the world. Sometimes less is more and it became of one my favourite releases of that year.

In July 2022, Gardot released a heavily “French-accented” collaboration with pianist Philippe Powell, son of guitarist Baden Powell. That collaboration continues with the release of an EP this year from the same Paris sessions. But that only makes a total catalogue of six studio albums in 12 years. Whether the re-release of Worrisome Heart is meant to fill the void or is a precursor to a new album remains to be seen.

Her journey into the world of music is well documented. At the age of 19, she was knocked off her bicycle, leaving her with extensive injuries and serious mobility problems. For a long-time she could only walk with the assistance of a cane. Writing songs, playing guitar in a horizontal position and a lot of determination helped her recover and now she is a passionate advocate of music therapy. Born in New Jersey, Gardot is more often to be found living in Europe – first Portugal and now France. She describes herself as a “citizen of the world”.

Worrisome Heart was a splendid first release and deserved all the credit it received. The ability to combine vocal finesse (with a hint of Edith Piaf) and dexterity with some fabulous self-penned compositions heralded the arrival of a serious new talent. Whether this is pure vocal jazz is open to debate and on occasions Gardot strays into the area of folk and romantic ballads. Later albums (The Absence, for example) start to reflect her world travels. But there is always enough jazz in her style to keep most fans happy.

Since the release of this album, Gardot has constantly searched out new musical influences and directions, whilst retaining a respectful and sentimental hold on the past. Many of her songs have a timeless feel, reminiscent of the great American songbook, which for someone so young is quite astonishing. She is never afraid to experiment and long may that continue with (hopefully) a new studio album in 2024. For the time being, I am grateful for this re-release as it reminded me of how precious a talent Gardot really is.


Discography
Worrisome Heart; All That I Need Is Love; Gone; Sweet Memory; Some Lessons; Quiet Fire; One Day; Love Me Like A River Does; Goodnite; Twilight (31.79)
Gardot (v, g); Dave Posmontier (p); Joel Bryant (Hammond B3); Krista Nielson (clo); Diane Monroe (v); Matt Cappy, Stan Slotter, Patrick Hughes (t); Ron Kerber (ts, c); Jef Lee Johnson, Barney McKenna, Mike Brenner (g); David Mowry (Dobro g); Ken Pendergast, Paul Klinefelter (b); Charlie Patierno (d). Morning Star Studios, East Norrington, PA, February 2006.
Decca Records