The Absence

Melody GardotMay 29, 2012
Vocals℗ 2012 Melody Gardot
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Since her 2008 debut, Melody Gardot has grown by artistic leaps and bounds, taking on new song forms and styles with a seemingly endless appetite for musical adventure. If Gardot's last album, My One and Only Thrill, played like classic film noir, The Absence is a vivid Technicolor travelogue that takes in Brazil (bossa nova and samba), Argentina (tango), Portugal (fado) and the multiethnic stew pot of modern Paris, with Gardot's mastery of Spanish, Portuguese and French adding local color to many songs. "Mira" starts the story off with a burst of frenetic joy, though the pieces darken as tales of travel and romance start to take in deception (self- and otherwise), lust and heartbreak. Brazil's Heitor Pereira is a key collaborator here and duets on a number of tunes, but this remains Melody Gardot's travelogue. Like a libertine Paul Simon, she basks in exotic locales and time signatures while illustrating that new roads can enrich her life and her music, but can't change human nature.

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So Long3:46
So We Meet Again My Heartache4:24
Impossible Love3:46
If I Tell You I Love You3:32
Se Voce Me Ama4:52
My Heart Won't Have It Any Other Way2:35
53 total

Additional Information

Total length
May 29, 2012
℗ 2012 Melody Gardot
File type
Access type
Streaming and by permanent download to your computer and/or device
Internet connection
Required for streaming and downloading
Playback information
Via Google Play Music app on Android v4+, iOS v7+, or by exporting MP3 files to your computer and playing on any MP3 compatible music player
Madeleine Peyroux took significantly less time than the eight years between her debut and its follow-up to release her third album, Half the Perfect World, which finds a more mature -- or at least less vulnerable -- singer, one who chooses to express herself with nuance rather than overtness. Often, like in the opening "I'm All Right" -- one of four original songs -- this aversion to unconcealed emotion works well, playing off the swelling Hammond, the swinging rhythm of the acoustic guitar (contrasting nicely with the hook of "It's all right, I've been lonely before"), and the simple drums. But at other times, like in "A Little Bit" -- which is bluesy and more upbeat and practically screams for an outburst, a growl, something -- her hesitancy instead almost comes across as a flaw, as a fear of fully expressing herself. On "Blue Alert," where Anjani's voice was full and seductive, rife with curling smoke rings and lipstick-stained wineglasses, Peyroux seems desolate and flat and she simplifies the situation too much, though she does fare much better on the other Anjani/Leonard Cohen piece and title track of the album. Here, she changes its perspective, mixing the characters together and sounding beautifully fragile, yet at the same time strong and certain, as she sings about her love. The same can be said for her version of the Johnny Mercer-penned "The Summer Wind," which uses a cleaner, less dramatic arrangement to convey the feeling that, though she's thinking about past events with some nostalgia, she's also able to accept the outcome and move forward with her life. This kind of resignation hangs heavy throughout the entire album, making every song she covers seem sadder than the original. Joni Mitchell's "River," sung with k.d. lang, is slow and heart-wrenching (lang's voice, especially, brings a sweet melancholy to it), and Peyroux's version of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" has a kind of dejected resoluteness that makes you wonder if she can even follow the advice she's singing. This subtlety is two-fold, however. It's so prevalent in the music that it's hard to tell if it's hinting at greater depth or if it's really a protective blanket, an affected timidity to prevent exposure. The delicateness of Half the Perfect World is certainly nice, but Peyroux seems to be using it as a device to hide behind instead of an actual expression of feeling, and so while the album is an overall success, it still leaves questions lingering behind the softly clicking hi-hat, the wandering bass, of when the singer's really going to show herself completely. [The 2006 edition of the album includes two bonus tracks.]
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