Gardot's effortless blend of soft-edged, late-night jazz and quiet, introspective blues is on exquisite display throughout, together with the swooning sashay of the melting, Stan Getz-like Les Etoiles. On The Rain, liquid piano, a gentle double bass line that quietly ebbs and flows, and a keening tenor saxophone cushion Gardot's poetically lovelorn lyrics and hushed vocal delivery to heart-stopping effect. The album's title track is a 4am-in-the-morning confessional masquerading as a bittersweet ballad that lingers long in the imagination.
Gardot acquits herself with the unfettered precision and unobtrusive panache of a born lyricist, each of the 10 original songs here a masterclass in miniature. Deep Within The Corners of My Heart dances with all the knowing elegance of Bacharach & David; Baby I'm A Fool is Sinatra during his soulful, self-doubting Point of No Return/No One Cares period; Who Will Comfort Me offers a defiant take on Carmel's Bad Day; Our Love Is Easy is the standout track on the album, an instant classic and a love song of timeless sophistication.
Musically, Gardot clearly believes more is less, the acoustic signature deceptively simple and straightforward but managing to make bass, piano, sax and percussion sound like an orchestra.
Rounding things off - and subtly underlining the album's abiding upbeat afternote - is a sweetly pastoral but resolutely unsentimental take on Somewhere Over The Rainbow cosseted in a perfectly proportioned, sunny Brazilian samba.
It may only be March, but this is already one of the outstanding albums of 2009. Talents like Melody Gardot come along all too infrequently. Now that she's here, she is to be treasured. --Michael Quinn
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