Melody Gardot ‘Currency of Man’ (Decca) 4/5

melody-gardotSinger-songwriter Melody Gardot occupies musical territory somewhere between the smoky folk-blues of Cassandra Wilson and the jazzy neo-soul of Erykah Badu with a voice that bears something of a resemblance to that of Annie Lenox. That is all part of the chemistry that makes her a highly individual musician and on this new all original set of recordings Gardot has come up with a sound that takes in acoustic and electric blues, sometimes with a rock tinge. funk and soul, with the ocasional jazz chord change, and yet still sounds utterly convincing. She excels on the dramatic strings that lend a film soundtrack quality to ‘Don’t talk’ that is a percussive mid-tempo number and the soulful delivery from the vocalist works a treat. Nina Simone is conjured up on ‘Morning Sun’, and this writer would like to hear more of the gospel hues evident in this song. The influence of Billie Holiday is discernible on the lush, jazzy ‘If I ever recall your face’ that could almost be in terms of style a modern-day take on ‘Strange Fruit’, though devoid of that song’s profound social significance. Country folk-blues are usefully evoked on ‘Don’t misunderstand’ with a repetitive chorus that is truly addictive. An uptempo and funky ‘Same to you’ features a bass line not dissimilar to Chic’s ‘Good Times’ and a funky urban groove is equally present on the sparsely produced ‘It gonna come’ with some epic 1970s style strings thrown in there for good measure. Melody Gardot is a vocalist with a difference and yet still deeply rooted within the blues, jazz and soul tradition and this fine album will only enhance her already burgeoning reputation.

Tim Stenhouse