Zwoele, jazzy liedjes met uitstapjes naar blues, pop en soul: dat is het smakelijke recept waarmee de mooie en mysterieuze Melody Gardot zich de laatste jaren nadrukkelijk op de kaart heeft gezet. Waren het eerder Norah Jones en Joni Mitchell die de scepter zwaaiden binnen het genre, tegenwoordig geldt Gardot als de ongekroonde koningin. Vorig jaar verscheen haar derde album The Absence, opvolger van het wereldwijd enthousiast ontvangen My One And Only Thrill. The Absence is even verrassend als magisch en briljant, o.m. geïnspireerd door haar reiservaringen in Marokko, Portugal, Argentinië en Brazilië. De 12 songs ademen perfect de hypnotiserende ritmes van fado, tango en samba. Het resultaat is Melody Gardot op haar best; melodieus, bluesy met een ruig randje en een zweem exotica!
In the summer of 2010, Melody took a last minute trip to Marrakech. On an overnight trip to the desert, she had something of a revelation:
“So many languages and so many cultures and yet I was taken by how similar the spirit of music is the world over.”
Melody’s next stop was Lisbon. Ensconced with her piano in a crumbling palazzo in the old city centre of Alfama, she threw herself into the indefinable Portuguese sentiment of loss and longing, saudade. Songs like the aptly titled “Lisboa” offer a glimpse of her stay there and the musical sounds of the streets – children playing, church bells, a singer on the corner. She learned the language, explored the fado clubs and immersed herself in songwriting.
“A lot the stories on the record come from my experiences – but also from the observation of people, living with them, the sadness and joy that came about in little moments. It was really a mutual connection.”
“To experience love in a different way, to understand what love is in a community is to recognize how people really hold themselves together. It was a huge shift for me, it bought me close - especially in Brazil – to people who celebrate through music.”
Melody carried all of these experiences, knowledge and music with her back to the States where she met with producer, composer and guitarist, Heitor Pereira.
“It was a beautiful connection," she says of her meeting with Pereira. "I had reached the point of not knowing what to do. All the music, somehow through the course of those months spent travelling, had welled up inside me with no way to get out. I needed a partner - a collaborator, and a bit of genius in his own right. Someone crazy enough to understand how serious I am when I say, 'I want to play palm leaves and a washboard’ - and make it work.”
The two worked together on songs like “Se Voce Me Ama” and “Amalia” which they co-wrote. Heitor plays guitar on the record and can be heard singing on “Se Voce Me Ama”. He also composed all the orchestral arrangements on the album. The all-star band is rounded out by John Leftwich (bass), Paulihno DaCosta (percussion), Jim Keltner and Peter Erskine (drums).
It took a year of travelling the world for Melody to find her inspiration for The Absence. It is a collection of many musical colours wrapped in the unique and expressive style that is Melody Gardot. As she embarks on another global tour to support her third album, it is time for us to share the music: the loss, the longing and finally the joy that she has discovered on her journey.