Melody Gardot: Worrisome Heart (Universal)

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Melody Gardot: Sweet Memory
Melody Gardot: Worrisome Heart (Universal)

There is nothing a music journalist likes better than a musician with a backstory, it just makes for better copy. And 23-year old Gardot has a backstory.

She spent a year in rehab.

But not THAT kind.

When she was 19 this New Jersey-born singer/pianist was knocked off her bike and suffered serious injuries. She couldn't sit, her short-term memory was impaired, she had constant headaches and became so acutely sensitive to light that she is now forced to wear tinted glasses. She still walks with a cane.

In hospital she began to learn guitar while lying down and slowly made her way back to the piano bars she had been playing previously. She did something on MySpace which got her an audience and a contract -- and this debut album places her directly into that winelight/soulful jazz-noir territory where she simply exudes sensuality and torch song pain, and keeps her music simple and direct, sensibly relying on her strong and assured (but quiet) vocals to carry the weight.

A few strings, a little lap steel or dobro, Hammond organ and the like add a touch of emotional colour but this is Gardot's showcase and if it falls into a little twee swing-jazz for a 3am club at some points it hardly detracts from the whole package.

Short album too, comes in around 33 minutes -- but that isn't the only reason it has been on repeat play around my way.

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