By Paul de Barros | Published January 2021
Of all the inspiring messages sent out by musicians during the pandemic, Melody Gardot’s touching video collaboration with players and well-wishers from around the world, “From Paris With Love,” struck home, especially the line, “Maybe one day, I’ll see you soon.” Gardot’s quietly passionate, finely wrought new album, Sunset In The Blue, includes that timely song while lingering in its register of loss, hope and moody desire, which we all know so well these days.
Working with lush strings in a gauzy pop-jazz territory pioneered by Norah Jones (but with a sultry alto and slo-mo pace that is more like Shirley Horn), Gardot displays her muted sound, nuanced phrasing, technical clarity and estimable songwriting on a rich combination of originals and covers. The title track was co-written by longtime Jones collaborator Jesse Harris, and its lyric, “another dream begins to fray,” is typical of the crossed-up love affairs that saturate the album. Shades of Dinah Washington’s gravity and Edith Piaf’s quick vibrato seep into “If You Love Me,” showcasing Gardot’s subtle stretching of a vowel sound for emotional punch. Brazilian flavors abound: Gardot’s “C’est Magnifique” and “There Where He Lives In Me” percolate as quiet bossas; “Um Beijo” and “Niguém, Niguém” exult in exuberance. Though Gardot’s take on “Moon River” is just OK, and the strings of “Ave Maria” might prompt a shrug, the album offers welcome comfort in a time of need.
Sunset In The Blue: If You Love Me; C’est Magnifique; There Where He Lives In Me; Love Song; You Won’t Forget Me; Sunset In The Blue; Um Beijo; Ninguém, Ninguém; From Paris With Love; Ave Maria; Moon River; I Fall In Love Too Easily; Little Something. (56:27)
Personnel: Melody Gardot, António Zambujo, vocals; Till Brönner, trumpet; Donny McCaslin, tenor saxophone; Anthony Wilson, Nando Duarte, guitar; Larry Klein, guitar, bass; Philippe Baden Powell, piano; Sam Minaie, John Leftwich, Chuck Berghofer, bass; Chuck Staab, Vinnie Colaiuta, drums; Paulinho Da Costa, percussion; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.