It is midnight. You are sitting in a sleazy jazz club in a Raymond Chandler-inspired world which seems to be characterised by sepia-tone. You're about to get your hat and step into the next scene, when Melody Gardot comes on the stage with Ken Prendergast on bass, Charlie Patieno on drums, Dave Posmontier on piano, Joel Bryan on that amazing Hammond, Matt Cappy on after-midnight trumpet, and Ron Kerber on the sleaziest tenor sax you ever heard. For four minutes your life stops as you drift into one of the most evocative late night jazz tracks you will hear for a long time.
The title track, Worrisome Heart is about as perfect as you can get. In just over four minutes, all the personalities of all the musicians are beautifully expressed, with Melody's creamy vocals elevating the track with meaning.
All that I need Is Love is a more Sinatra-inspired track, with vocallic dooby-doobying and a more upbeat, playful approach. Gone, the third track, is a minimally accompanied melancholy, with a whole verse of ba-da-bem-bo. Coming so soon after All that I need is Love, this really didn't quite work for me, and I was aching to turn back to Worrisome Heart. Come to think of it, once I've finished writing this review, I'll probably put Worrisome Heart on repeat and drowse in front of the fire until about 2 am.
Track 4, Sweet Memory, is a skilful piece of ragtime, which reminds us that that Melody is an accomplished guitarist who likes to have other guitarists around her, notably David Mowry of Beaucoup Blue on Dobro. Sweet stuff, which doesn't have to work hard to keep you interested.
Track 5, Some Lessons, is just a bit quiet and down for me at this point in the album -- but it has some powerful lyrics, like "don't think I can survive on bread and wine alone", which makes you wish that the designers had printed the lyrics in the album cover, instead of, or perhaps as well as, the interesting story of how the album came to be made. As the song moves on, the band begins to intrude, with their wonderfully spacious sound, setting you up for track six: Quiet Fire, another after-midnight club-jazz number with a wicked beat on the bass and guitar, and Joel Bryant's Hammond drifting in again. The song really comes alive on the chorus: "All I want is somebody to love me...". The walking bass kicks up on the bridge, which diminuendos down to a momentary section of free rhythm, taking us straight back to the chorus, and thence into the final verse, which is the first time we learn why the song is called "Quiet Fire". Superb stuff.
We're back to ragtime-influence for One Day, where Gardot accompanies herself on finger-picked guitar, with just a trumpet solo from guesting Stan Stotter to sweeten it. The guitar sound is wonderfully transparent, and completely fills the space beneath the vocals.
Melody is herself on piano for Love Me Like a River Does, with an introduction echoing Debussy. With just a simmer on the cymbals, a flutter on the trumpet, and the lightest touch of bass, this is a meditative piece, which picks up momentarily for the one line chorus: "love me that is all". There is a marvellously empty trumpet solo from Matt Cappy after the second chorus, with no more than Satie-esque piano chords to support it.
The penultimate track, Goodnite, is led in with solo acoustic bass, which takes the vocals and the rest of the band with it throughout the song. Barney McKenna gives us our only electric guitar solo of the album, though the bass is on that section is almost as complex. For some reason, Melody then goes into French, with a 78-style sound that takes the song to a slightly odd end -- or perhaps not, as a a single bar's rest takes us straight into the final Twilight, a one-minute-one-second two-guitar, bass and cymbal cadenza, finished off with the muttered 'That was Fun', which wraps up the whole album nicely as a sort of extended jam session from some particularly sleazy corner of heaven.
And that's it. The band leaves, and you're left, still in your raincoat, as the barman closes up, and you wander out into the sepia-toned darkness...