The well-traveled jazz singer has on occasion traded in a pair while visiting a new city. "I’ll let go of whatever shoes I’m wearing and I’ll buy a new pair," she says. "It’s almost as if to transfer my journey."
Gardot’s travels continue with the April release of My One And Only Thrill, the follow-up to her acclaimed debut, Worrisome Heart.
The new CD further makes the case that Gardot is one of the freshest faces in music. Her arsenal includes a luscious voice that's touched with an air of mystery and songs that exists somewhere in the world between singer-songwriter confessional and jazz chic.
"The fear in creation is repeating one’s ideas," she says. "It’s not a beneficial thing when you repeat a formula. I would never have wanted to make a record that sounded exactly like Worrisome Heart."
Gardot, who is in her 20s, believes that a record marks where an artist is at a particular time in her life. Taking account all of the changes and growth that she has gone through in the past year, the lyrical content called for something bigger and needed to move forward, she says.
Gardot has writing credits on 10 of the 11 songs on the new album. Produced by Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Madeline Peyroux, and Herbie Hancock), the music features touches of Brazilian rhythms, giving it added texture.
Vince Mendoza provided orchestral arrangements at spots, creating an even richer backdrop for Gardot’s voice to shine. Fortunately, her distinct sound remains. The album was recorded with members of Gardot’s touring band.
The album opens with "Baby I’m A Fool," a tune that girl singers of a prior generation would have fought over to sing. Gardot’s dreamy voice plays perfectly over a gentle string arrangement.
She says the song was rooted in the idea of a duet, not a traditional duet between two people, but more of an internal conversation that one might carry on. "How was I to know that this was always only just a little game to you?" she sings.
The characters are hopelessly in love, but guarded at the same time.
"If The Stars Were Mine" features some of Gardot’s best lines: "If the world was mine I’d paint it gold and green/I’d make the oceans orange for a brilliant color scheme/ I would color all the mountains, make the sky forever blue, so the world would be a painting and I’d live inside with you."
She says this song, with its breezy Latin vibe, is an exception to her other compositions because it’s a tune based around sentiment. It’s a feeling that a parent might have while looking at a newborn.
The one cover song on the CD is "Over the Rainbow." When Gardot was a young girl, her grandmother would make her watch "The Wizard of Oz" over and over.
The grown-up Gardot was sitting down to write and played with some chords. She realized it was the beginning to the movie’s famous song. She learned the rest of the song and began playing it live. Rather than perform a straight cover version, Gardot infuses the song with a fresh Brazilian flavor.
The song came back to her by chance, she says, noting that a lot of things have happened to her by accident.
Twists of Fate
The most notable twist of fate came when she was riding a bicycle and was struck by an SUV in 2003. While recovering from the terrible crash, Gardot became involved in music therapy, which opened the doors to her career.
She continues to use a cane to help with her balance, and she wears dark glasses because she is sensitive to light.
"Right now, I’m great," she says. "I’m in the middle of a warm, sunny place in the Pacific. I have a few days off before we go back to Europe. I’m holding up OK. I’ve learned to rest between tours and during tours. I’ve got a great team of people around me."
When she’s touring, she likes to enjoy a good meal in a new city. Sometimes, it’s as simple as going to the market and gathering a few items for a picnic, she says. She’s also a huge fan of classical music and has enjoyed the opera at different stops, including Paris and Vienna.
On her MySpace page, Gardot writes about the word "disability," saying it is "self-demoting." She explains that she is "able to do some things and unable to do others. That’s all." She then explains her cane, glasses, and earplugs.
And, with a touch of humor she adds nice shoes to the list of things she needs. She doesn’t have room to accumulate many, but she notes her appreciation for a fashionable pair. "What can I say, ‘I like my shoes,’" she explains.