Currency of Man

Currency of Man

by Melody Gardot

CD

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Overview

On 2012's The Absence, Melody Gardot made her first shift away from the jazz-tinged ballads that drew such heavy comparisons to Norah Jones and Madeleine Peyroux. Lushly orchestrated, it was chock-full of songs inspired by Brazilian, Latin, and French forms. On Currency of Man, Gardot takes on a rootsier sound, embracing West Coast soul, funk, gospel, and pop from the early '70s as the backdrop for these songs. It is not only different musically, but lyrically. This is a less "personal" record; its songs were deeply influenced by the people she encountered in L.A., many of them street denizens. She tells their stories and reflects on themes of social justice. It's wide angle. Produced by Larry Klein, the cast includes members of her band, crack session players -- guitarist Dean Parks, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, Larry Goldings, the Waters Sisters, et al. -- and strings and horns. The title track is a funky blues with a rumbling bassline, dramatic strings (à la Motown) and fat horns. Gardot uses the lens of Sam Cooke to testify to the inevitability of change: "We all hopin' for the day that the powers see abdication and run/Said it gonna come…." First single "Preacherman" is similar, employing a wrangling, smoldering blues that indicts racism in the 20st century by referring to the violent death of Emmett Till, a catalyst in the then-emergent Civil Rights movement. A driving B-3, saxophone, and menacing lead guitar ratchet up the tension to explosive. A gospel chorus mournfully affirms Gardot's vocal as a harmonica moans in the background. "Morning Sun" and closer "Once I Was Loved" are tender ballads that emerge from simple, hymn-like themes and quietly resonant with conviction. "Same to You" evokes the spirit of Dusty Springfield atop the punchy horns from her Memphis period, albeit with a West Coast sheen. The nylon-string guitar in "Don't Misunderstand" recalls Bill Withers' earthy funkiness. The song's a groover, but it's also a warning to a possessive lover. "Don't Talk" uses spooky polyrhythms (à la Tom Waits) as brooding, spacy slide guitars, B-3, and backing singers slice through forbidding blues under Gardot's voice. "If Ever I Recall Your Face" is jazzier, a 21st century take on the film noir ballad with glorious strings arranged by Clément Ducol that rise above a ghostly piano. "Bad News" simultaneously looks back at L.A.'s Central Avenue and burlesque scenes. It's a jazz-blues with a sauntering horn section, snaky electric guitar, and squawking saxophone solo. Vocally, Gardot is stronger than ever here, her instrument is bigger and fuller yet it retains that spectral smokiness that is her trademark. Currency of Man is a further step away from the lithe, winsome pop-jazz that garnered her notice initially, and it's a welcome one.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/02/2015
Label: Verve
UPC: 0602547246820
catalogNumber: 002318302
Rank: 54895

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Melody Gardot   Primary Artist,Guitar,Piano,Vocals,Background Vocals
Larry Goldings   Organ
Vinnie Colaiuta   Drums
Gary Grant   Trumpet
Jerry Hey   Conductor
Dan Higgins   Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Clydene Jackson   Background Vocals
Andy Martin   Trombone
Dean Parks   Guitar
Julia Waters   Background Vocals
Jesse Harris   Guitar
Mitchell Long   Guitar
Pete Kuzma   Organ
Maxine Waters   Background Vocals
Chuck Staab   Drums
Pete Korpela   Percussion
Irwin Hall   Alto Saxophone
Heather Donavon   Background Vocals
Reese Richardson   Guitar
Clément Ducol   Prepared Piano

Technical Credits

Jerry Hey   Horn Arrangements
Larry Klein   Producer
Jesse Harris   Composer
Melody Gardot   Composer
Chuck Staab   Composer
Lynne Earls   Engineer
Maxime Le Guil   Engineer
Clément Ducol   String Arrangements,String Conductor
Jovite De Laymarie   Artwork,Layout

Customer Reviews

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Currency of Man 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
MarkTLancaster More than 1 year ago
Her best yet, a real leap into a new kind of sound that still feels like where she’s been headed all along. The feeling is moody, jazzy, intoxicating, mostly quieter arrangements that take me to a very cool place. I like to close eyes and listen with headphones. Organic and whole, like it couldn’t have been put together any other way. Such a beautiful voice, such fresh and vital instrumentation and arrangements, I’m totally in love with this album.