As smooth singers go, Philadelphia’s Melody Gardot is more versatile than most. On her last album she explored world music; on Currency of Man, she’s gone “conscious”. It’s not quite Erykah Badu, but when you’re a Grammy-winning easy-listening artist, it’s an admirable direction. There are songs inspired by the American civil rights movement (Preacherman, with its twangy, Dusty Springfield vibe), and others that speak out about war, famine and poverty. Moreover, she experiments with new rhythms – elements of 70s funk on She Don’t Know and rushes of gospel on Same to You, teamed with widescreen strings and flashes of horns. Some of her older-style material jars – when playing the cabaret siren on Bad News, or the musical theatre dame on overblown jazz ballad If Ever I Recall Your Face – but for the most part, these heavy-lidded protest jams are a sophisticated twist on her continually evolving sound.
Melody Gardot: Currency of Man review – another new direction for an innovative soul singer
Kate Hutchinson is a freelance culture writer and hosts a monthly radio show on Worldwide FM