tue 23/07/2019

CD: Melody Gardot – Currency of Man | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Melody Gardot – Currency of Man

CD: Melody Gardot – Currency of Man

Undoubtedly charismatic, but less can also be more in the special effects department

'Currency of Man' – unashamedly polyglot

No one can accuse Gardot of stinting on the shoe-leather. For her previous two albums she has trotted the globe, drawing together samba, tango, bossa nova and calypso into a rhythmical pot pourri. This time, for the fourth album in seven years, Gardot turns her attention to the streets of LA, which she pounds, discovering, according to the release, the “helpless, homeless and hungry”, whose stories she tells here. Amid some undoubtedly charismatic performances, it feels as if the work’s main discovery has been the particularly diverse instrumentation settings menu in the production suite.  

“It Gonna Come” has a stark, apocalyptic tone mounted on menacing horn riffs; “Preacherman” a choral intro leading into declamatory rock guitar and accompanying pseudo-religious lyrics; “Morning Sun” a piano ballad of more ominous religiosity; “Don’t Misunderstand” a collage of strings, ambient sound and acoustic guitar; “If I Ever Recall Your Face” a syrup of strings, piano and anguished vocals; “Bad News” a gravelly, honking, sub-Waitsian melange. The way Gardot’s voice creaks and groans like the timbers of a ship in a storm is in itself an interesting sound; it’s the destination of the voyage that seems uncertain. Several songs, especially “Preacherman”, are, in their sketchy sense of doom, reminiscent of the theme music of The Wire: of course, they lack a compelling drama to nail the effects into place.

In the end, there’s just too much. No sound palette is left unattempted. It’s not so much currency of man as one of those charity buckets for leftover holiday change, a hefty Babel of zloty, drachma, rand and baht. There’s something for everyone, at least. You could play the album at a family event and everyone would like at least one song. Gardot seems to have the voice to say something worthwhile, but in order to make it work, she needs to put away the toys and sing from the heart.  

It’s not so much currency of man as one of those charity buckets for leftover holiday change

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Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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