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Album Review: Melody Gardot – Currency of Man

2 min read

American jazz singer Melody Gardot is an artist renowned for her smooth jazz style as well as her sultry singing voice. I discovered Gardot through her melancholic track Baby I’m A Fool by chance a few years ago and was blown away. With her latest album Currency of Man, Gardot explores a more politically charged theme and one that ultimately makes this album fall a little flat.

Melody Gardot Currency of Man (1)The introductory track It Gonna Come is long but full of zest. With a funky bass line and a choral of voices, the track is groovy and delightfully syncopated in rhythm. While there is quite a bare accompaniment in the beginning, the song really builds with the introduction of a low brass melodic ostinato. This is definitely the best track of the album. The politically charged topic within this song doesn’t rip the song from its emotional depth – this is heightened by the playful musical elements within the song.

The second track Preacherman is a very punchy song that really accentuates the musicality in the accompaniment. However, Gardot’s vocals don’t really follow the rise of the building music. Don’t Misunderstand is another standout track that tackles a slower rhythm, which works with a repetitive call and response between Gardot’s vocals. The soft verses are juxtaposed in the repetitive hook and the eventual guitar and organ solos. This track gradually builds and the string melody motifs fade in and out in a playful way. Once I Was Loved is a beautifully raw ending to the album and accentuates Gardot’s vocal ability.

Besides these tracks, I can’t really say that any others really have a profound impact. Most of the tracks on this album such as Morning Sun and She Don’t Know don’t really have memorable elements that haven’t been already explored in the other tracks within the album. However, this album is a nice listen for some soft jazz that doesn’t jolt the listener.

Ultimately, what this album lacks is a real build with Gardot’s vocals. I know that she more so explores a slow jazz style, but more energy is needed from her vocals to really take many of these tracks to a whole other level. The political nature of this album creates a fracture in its ability to be raw and emotional. There is not really an extensive exploration of different emotions or ideas and this lack of contrast is what disables the album from being extraordinary.