LIVE: Melody Gardot

Melody Gardot came tripping off the stage on Friday night in a state of some glee. The pressure was off, because her set at LSO St Lukes – songs from the current album, “My One and Only Thrill” with her band and the BBC Concert Orchestra, a live recording for radio -had gone very well indeed.

Walking-stick (above) in hand, she hopped and skipped over a small speaker. It seemed that she might (and let’s hope she has..) now be recovering well from the appalling accident which has delivered music writers –here’s May 2009 JazzTimes weighing in with no fewer than 2,600 words! – with much of the copy associated with her rise to success and visibility.

I turned to my companion at the gig. He’s a Metropolitan Police officer.

“Do you think she still needs that stick?” I asked him.

He said nothing , but what I got back was one of his unmistakeable ” I ‘aven’t heard that one for at least ten minutes” expressions.

If you don’t like the sniff of commercial success, please look away now, because Gardot shifts product. Her albums are currently at No.2 and No . 4 in both the Official UK Jazz charts and the Billboard US Jazz charts. These jazz charts are a comfort zone through-and-through: – the top five places are inhabited almost exclusively by Diana Krall , Madeleine Peyroux and Gardot.

I notice that my fellow music bloggers over the weekend have been railing furiously against commercialism:

– At One More Take , Tommy Pearson has been praising “knowledge and craft” and slamming “sales and commercialism” as “crass and meaningless”.

-Over at The Jazz Breakfast , Peter Bacon has been going hammer and tongs at Observer Music Monthly , for using all its space “discussing fast music, the hear today and forget tomorrow pap that goes by the name pop” and asking “Where is the really interesting stuff that stimulates the frontal lobel?”

There’s no denying that Gardot at the moment is cleverly engineered, expertly packaged, and slickly sold. The music industry needs a production line of ingenues. No question, Gardot marketing borders on exploitation: that trademark walking stick-as-accessory gets a whole page to itself in the CD booklet of “Thrill.”

You also get the sure touch of producer Larry Klein, former husband of Joni Mitchell(see this INTERVIEW) , who also produces Peyroux.

You also get some very curious trademark (?) vowels and syllable stresses: she seems to fawl in love with a curious Southern drawl. And the word “matter” versified as a spondee, with two long syllables and a held final “r” could either charm, or remove the will to live.

But I can’t help believing there is more. Time will tell. A couple of people have told me you also get stage charisma and presence? Not something which can fairly be answered by seeing her recording for live radio.

I’d definitely go and hear her again. Musically, live, it works. The songs, with their long sustained phrases and built-in fermatas, held the attention.

I reckon one or two of Gardot’s gently seductive, knowingly gamine, slightly ironic songs from this album might stick around for a long time. And -from all points of view, let’s hope- a lot longer than… that stick.

Categories: miscellaneous

4 replies »

  1. We were at the gig at LSO, mainly to hear Paul Carrack – we enjoyed Melody so much we went and bought both her albums on Saturday! We also had a brief chat with her afterwards, I hope she does very well

  2. If smaller indie jazz labels had a fifth of the budgets to push Britsh jazz artists in the way that Gardot has been foisted upon us we would all be throwing away our walking sticks and shades and tripping over stage lights. What aggravates me even more is that her adverts are platsered all over thge pages of Myspace smothering our work so we become even more insignificant. AGGHHHHH
    Jones, Peyroux and now Gardot…. a bunch of ice queens

  3. Interesting review. If anyone can imagine that the accident/ walking stick is fake or played up as a gimmick to sell records and tickets, it says more about THEM than anything else! Cynical depths indeed. Pity that and the x-factor background tearjerker took up so much of your review. I am glad though that it was so positive for you, and that she can do it “live” (which is what Jazz is essentially about). I would have like to know if she played around with lyrics, arrangements, keys, timings etc. or if she produced an almost exact reproduction of the record. Still a good read, though, and a great site. I will be back again and again!

  4. Why is it that many Jazz Musicians (and singers) feel they must die for their art, declaring anything remotely commercial which might be in danger of making money, out of order?

    Jazz is not as big as it should be in this country simply because of the elitist attitude.

    Thank God for the likes of Krall, Cullen and more recently Gardot. They have helped to keep jazz alive and lesser known artists benefit from this. The 2 can surely go hand in hand?

Leave a Reply