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Album Review

Second time's a 'Thrill' for Gardot

April 27, 2009
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Jazz
Melody Gardot My One and Only Thril
VERVE
ESSENTIAL "My One and Only Thrill"

Melody Gardot's 2008 debut was swell: an understated collection of savvy jazz-pop packed with Norah Jones-caliber crossover appeal. But the follow-up is a stunner, the work of an artist who over the course of a couple of years has made great leaps as a composer and a lyricist. Gardot is a singer-songwriter who works in the jazz idiom, but where "Worrisome Heart" was an alluring fusion of folk, blues, pop, and jazz, the new album falls firmly into the latter camp. Part of the credit for Gardot's creative ascent goes to producer Larry Klein (studio guru to talented women from Joni Mitchell to Madeleine Peyroux), whose deft touch is marred here only by his overuse of strings. They nearly derail the lead track and first single, "Baby, I'm a Fool." Otherwise, "My One and Only Thrill" is as elegant and sophisticated a collection of songs as you're likely to hear. A model of crisp economy (Gardot name-checks Hemingway, legitimately) and deep craft (half of these tracks already sound like classics), Gardot's singular vision spans bossa nova ("Les Etoile"), blues ("Who Will Comfort Me"), noir ("Your Heart Is as Black as Night"), art song ("The Rain"), and a fistful of romantic ballads that are at once timeless and thrillingly original. A delicate, yet intense, vocalist, Gardot possesses an enigmatic style that seems connected to the severe injuries she sustained and chronic pain she endures after being hit by a car five years ago. Even the breath between Gardot's notes is delivered with precision and panache. (Out tomorrow)

JOAN ANDERMAN