Acclaimed musician and self-proclaimed “citizen of the world” Melody Gardot has followed a slightly different path towards her career in music. Growing up with a love of music from a young age, it wasn’t until 2003 when Melody Gardot learned just how large a role music can play in life. After sustaining a collection of serious injuries in an accident, Gardot was encouraged to utilize music to rehabilitate her brain and relearn certain speech paths. During this time, Melody Gardot began writing and recording music that dealt with her recovery process.
Due to an increased vocal and visual sensitivity, the music that came from Gardot’s music reflected a new aesthetic for the songstress. The musician began exploring jazz and blues, pulling a more reserved aesthetic as opposed to the booming production of rock and pop. The stripped back aesthetic placed a greater focus on Gardot’s personal lyrics and her powerful voice, which is accented by just the right amount of smoke. Armed with her music and a survivor’s outlook Melody Gardot rapidly developed a following of listeners who were able to connect with her struggles and learn from her connection to the music.
Now Melody Gardot is preparing for the release of her fourth studio album. Titled Currency of Man the album is set for a debut on June 2 and continues to display Gardot’s positive outlook on life and her drive for equality and peace.
Currency of Man kicks off with the socially conscious “It Gonna Come,” which features Gardot’s smoky vocals as she sings about the plight of the homeless and their struggles to work towards “the means of the end.” In a day when the public is so quick to accuse the homeless of taking advantage of the public, Gardot points out that they are merely doing the best that they can to simply survive. The track is thought provoking and encourages people to approach situations with
As “It Gonna Come” fades out, Melody moves into the album’s second official release, “Preacherman.” The track and its accompanying music video is dedicated to the late Emmett Till, a young African American who was brutally murdered in 1955. Till’s death and subsequent funeral strengthened the battle for equality between races, and Gardot references specific moments from his death while lamenting society’s loss of innocence and youth. Singing in front of a full choir, Gardot’s vocals are filled with pain for the errors of the past, but she sings of faith in a better tomorrow.
Gardot slows things down a little as we move forward into the piano driven “Morning Sun.” As the song evolves the musician sings to a child and promises that the sun will bring a new day filled with new opportunities to the world. Her vocals resonate with warmth and support, and I can’t help but smile as she refers to her listeners as “Honey Child.” The simple song imparts so much wisdom and reveals Gardot’s positive outlook on life. Regardless of what has happened in the past, she is fully committed to working towards a world of peace, equality, and love. Listening to her on “Morning Sun,” it is so much easier to believe in such a world.
Things pick up as we move into the driving production on “Same To You,” a livid track dedicated to cruel lovers. The track vibrates with an almost threatening production, lush with brassy horns and a slightly eerie instrumentation, as Gardot vows that they will reap what they have sown in previous relationships. A collection of backing vocalists chime in to offer their support on the chorus, and this is not a crew that I would recommend crossing. Following the thinly veiled promises, “Don’t Misunderstand” moves forward with a much more nuanced production as Gardot sings to her lover, asking him to understand that her somewhat aloof persona does not reflect her feelings about their relationship. Both lovers are free spirits, but Gardot knows that her feelings run true and expresses them over the course of the song. The string led production is comprised of a series of layers and perfectly supports Gardot’s vocals as she unveils a fragile part of her soul.
“Don’t Talk” features a more organic production as Gardot asks humanity not to “put a front” up about themselves, preferring for people to simply display their true selves. The song is an interesting concept, implying that people spend too much time trying to create an image for themselves instead of simply being. As the song moves into an instrumental bridge, some spacier elements enter the production, almost mirroring humanity’s desire to conform and create an image. As Gardot’s smoky vocals reenter the sonic space, the distorted production disappears for the final plea.
“If I Ever Recall Your Face” is a moody jazz ballad of incredible depth. The track opens with some weeping strings and haunting piano notes, which resolve themselves before fading away for Melody Gardot’s gorgeous vocal track. The jazz songstress approaches the lyrics with great thought as she reflects upon chance and a failed relationship. The track is truly a standout on the album with its dramatic production and thoughtful delivery. The song feels like an epic filled with great love and great loss, and rarely have the two ever co-existed in such perfect harmony. Gardot sounds down on her luck and low as she pines for her lover, but the depth of her loss reflects upon the dizzying heights of her love.
A jazz and blues influence continues as Currency of Man moves into “Bad News,” and Gardot sings over the sparse but dramatic instrumentation. The musician compares the end of days to the untimely ending of a show. Featuring a horn heavy instrumental break Gardot sings about moving forward after the bad news. The song almost feels like a warning to humanity, encouraging us to take preventative measures to save the world (or the show) in the face of the mounting bad news. Our show isn’t over yet, and Gardot is trying to warn us of our impending doom if we are not careful. “She Don’t Know” is yet another nuanced track with a message. This time Gardot brings in the sounds of the street, complete with whistling onlookers, as she sings about a young woman being harassed while heading to work. The song is about the plight of similar young women but also about the power that they yield and their opportunities for the future.
Currency of Man closes out on “Once I Was Loved,” an almost ethereal and most definitely uplifting track. On the track Melody Gardot is at her most weary, but she is strengthened by her memories of past love. The song speaks to the power and all consuming nature of love. The stunning track is the perfect way to end the album, reminding all listeners that love is capable of overcoming. No matter what you may be going through, this is a reminder of better days and positive tomorrows.
A strong advocate of music therapy and the healing quality of music, Gardot’s Currency of Man is infused with positivity and good energy. The album consistently moves towards a happy ending, acknowledging and paying tribute to horrors in the past but always moving forward towards an ultimate goal. There is little to no accusation throughout the album; instead, there is a focus on forgiving and moving forward. Gardot’s evocative voice is an undeniable and commanding presence across Currency of Man. The songstress attacks each song with a goal in mind and is successful at conveying her message across the board. Supported by exceptional production and live instrumentation the album moves resolutely forward and never falters towards its final goals.
Currency of Man is strong offering from the Grammy nominated musician. The collection vibrates with life, and the layered production is finessed with expertise and a dedication to creating an exceptional final product. The album is set for release in early June, and the thoughtful collection shows a lot of promise while displaying Gardot’s optimistic outlook on life. If you want to learn more about Currency of Man then follow Melody Gardot on her official website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for information about how to pick up a copy of the album!