The Absence

If there’s a more interesting recent musical story than the one found in the career of Melody Gardot, then I must have missed it. First, Gardot suffered a nearly fatal accident, then she began to sing as part of her physical-rehabilitation process, and then she made a hit debut album signaling a bright new jazz voice. Her second album, My One and Only Thrill, garnered three Grammy nominations, and now, with The Absence, she offers up homage to the tradition of Portuguese Fado, that soul-soaked genre heard from Lisbon to Rio to the Cape Verde islands. The echoes of Fado here are pretty explicit in the song “Amalia,” a bow to Amália Rodrigues, the woman who is to that tradition what Aretha is to American gospel and soul. “Lisboa” also echoes that genre, and that spirit. The international oeuvre that has become a feature of Gardot’s career makes her an adventurous and eclectic artist, with all of her stuff rooted in the kinds of torchy jazz songs that used to be heard in smoky clubs. Sometimes, though, she ventures out into the sun for songs that sound tropical and full of life. Wherever she takes her listeners, it’s a good place to be.