Interview: Melody Gardot’s ‘Sunset in the Blue’, an Open Window Amongst Closed Doors

Melody Gardot © Laurence Laborie
Melody Gardot © Laurence Laborie
Melody Gardot’s ‘Sunset In The Blue’, a jazzy saunter to a bossa nova strum, is a multilingual journey through the heart’s wins and losses.
Stream: ‘Sunset in the Blue’ – Melody Gardot

 




It’s artists like jazz singer/songwriter Melody Gardot who embody a type of boundary-free worldliness, that are role models for us all in this occasionally closed-minded world.

Ms. Gardot leads by example in the lessons of, how to cast the right kind of light across the globe to inspire appreciation, acceptance and understanding of the other.

She’s a real xenophile.

Through travel, the arts, fashion, and then some, Gardot brings together the richness of all she hears, sees, tastes and feels as a citizen of our world, to create her own unique, Melody Gardot-chic. Our world is filled with a plenty of diverse beauty. If only we would cash in on opportunities to experience and appreciate it all, as does Gardot.

But let’s face it: Nowadays, and for the foreseeable future, it’s possible that our ability to travel the globe, and make good on the opportunities afforded us by the bounties of its multicultural offerings, will be seriously limited by our current COVID-19 crisis. But, no matter: We have works like Gardot’s fifth and most recently released studio album, Sunset In The Blue (10/23/20 via Decca Records), to help us escape the confines of this lockdown and immerse ourselves in the colorful tapestry of the world’s cornucopic euphony.

Sunset in the Blue - Melody Gardot
Sunset in the Blue – Melody Gardot

With one of the singles off Sunset In The Blue entitled “From Paris with Love,” Gardot and her label Decca Records took the idea of helping the world community from an amorphous spiritual sonic support, to a sleeves rolled up, let’s create jobs and put food in people’s mouths type of support.

Musicians from the United States, Armenia, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Norway and beyond who became unemployed and could not perform due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, came together to record, “From Paris with Love.” Ms Gardot made sure these musicians were paid a fee relative to a standard UK musicians studio wage in return for their time and expertise.

Regarding the “From Paris with Love” project, Ms. Gardot explains that it was “a stunning example of how music is a universal language and how our global awareness is greater than ever. Seeing what’s happening around the world, we cannot ignore our need for love and connection during this time. I am so happy to see the generous response displayed in the vast array of characters, from all corners of the globe, coming together to create this unique piece of music. It is a symbolic gesture for the way we can offer hope as we look towards the idea of creation in the future.”




Though just shy of esperantic status, Sunset In The Blue’s track list boasts Melody Gardot’s ability to both sing and compose music in English, French, and Portuguese.  Oscillating between languages, based on their natural cadence and feel on her tongue, Gardot helps us to experience the varied rhythms and flows of each dialect as if they were each a separate musical instrument, capable of expressing different emotions with each sound.

Sunset In The Blue is rich with layers of standard swooners like Mercer and Mancini’s “Moon River” and Frank Sinatra’s classic, “I Fall in Love Too Easily” by Styne/Cahn. It is exquisitely swirled with Gardot’s originals like the album’s bittersweet title track, “Sunset In The Blue” and standout beauty, Portuguese original “Um Biejo.” They tell stories of the heart with an understanding mixture of hope, pain and honesty.

Tantas vezes procurando meu destino
Tantas vezes perguntando no caminho
Tantas vezes uma pedra nas correntes
Ser mulher com um colar desse sementes
Mas eu
Tava esperando
Alguém pra amar
Alguém pra me dar um beijo
Eu, passaro sem par
Tava esperando
Alguém pra amar
So many times searching for my destiny
So many times asking along the way
So many times a rock in the chains
Being a woman with a necklace from these stones
But me, I’ve been awaiting
Someone to love
Someone to kiss me
Me, a birdy without a match
I’ve been awaiting
Someone to love




With its grounded vulnerability, Gardot’s  repertoire  keeps us company in our feelings of weeping, wanting and sometimes, waiting. A very stark difference from “Little Something,” the pop latinesque single Gardot released with Sting just prior to dropping Sunset In The Blue. It appears on the album as a bonus track.

As an album, Sunset In The Blue is nuanced with many of the same stratum that make up Gardot herself.  An equal balance of vivid culture, romantic verse and vintage class, it’s almost a microcosm of the artist herself.

Melody Gardot © 2020
Melody Gardot © 2020



Sunset In The Blue smoothly sways with its percussive brushes. A jazzy saunter to a Bossa Nova strum, it is a multilingual journey through the heart’s wins and losses. With lyrics like these from Ms Gardot’s “There Where He Lives in Me,”

There where all our tears are just from laughter
There we are always together
Even when he’s gone forever
There where he lives in me
There where he lives in me

so intimate in its annunciation, Sunset In The Blue makes it impossible to deny the complex emotions that have been woven into each moment of the album.

Atwood Magazine was honored to spend some time with Melody Gardot and discuss the creation of Sunset In The Blue. Now that this album is available, take the opportunity to travel the world with your heart and soul through each glorious track.  Sunset In The Blue offers us an open window amongst the many closed doors of quarantine. It’s a real delight to behold.

Stream: “If You Love Me” – Melody Gardot



A CONVERSATION WITH MELODY GARDOT

Sunset in the Blue - Melody Gardot

Atwood Magazine: Sunset in The Blue is such beautifully cathartic, romantic yet grounded listening. These songs whisk us away to a private candlelit evening. Perhaps alone with our thoughts or accompanied by a love. How did writing and recording them impact you?

Melody Gardot: Of course none of us expected that this album would be halted by a pandemic. We set out in January 2020 to begin demos and recordings of this album hoping we would finalize in the spring. Mid-way through that process however, all operations had come to a grinding halt. In revisiting the recordings, we decided to push forward and continue to find a way to make music despite these trying times, and it was in that moment that we discovered great beauty. The song “From Paris With Love” took new life: serving as a beacon of light in dark times, it offered a chance to break the mould in terms of “how” we create music and also provide a number of musicians the opportunity to work, maintaining their livelihood as performers. We then created a video with the help of fans who were quarantined around the world and managed to bring the gesture of connection full circle by donating (with Universal and myself) our respective royalties of this song to a charity for healthcare workers… We did what we could with what we had. I felt incredibly inspired after this moment to keep searching for a way to make music and keep musicians working. Our team worked nonstop in that moment until we were graced by the presence of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road to help us finalize the remaining recordings at a distance.

Was there one unified idea that drove you to write and record these songs?

Melody Gardot: In terms of style, I had wanted to return to something more feminine and sensual, as we had been developing this sound the two years prior (while on tour). Quite simply, I felt it was time to take that energy and that approach (also much more orchestrated) to the studio.



Sunset in The Blue includes so many wonderful covers. From Elton John’s “Love Song,” Carly Simmon’s “You Won’t Forget Me,” “I Fall in Love Too Easily” by Styne/Cahn for Frank Sinatra, to Mercer and Mancini’s “Moon River”written for Audrey Hepburn to sing in the film Breakfast at Tiffany's. How do you choose which covers to record?

Melody Gardot:  It’s not an easy process in the sense we start with a very large pile, but Larry Klein made it easier by bringing some wonderful suggestions. He was the one who brought “Moon River” and “Love Song” to the table. Afterwards, the rest came quite naturally.

Though you have been living in France for many years, you are originally a Jersey girl. How does that set you apart from your French lifescape?

Melody Gardot: Up until this pandemic I traveled nonstop due to the nature of this occupation. Now, I split my time more frequently between the US and France because I’m working on another project. I have “lived” many places if you count the stints between records as “home,” and always find inspiration in the places I go. I believe as an artist, it is part of the desire and also our job to continue to learn new cultures, new musical styles and new languages. In a way, it’s learning about new techniques…

Melody Gardot © Laurence Laborie
Melody Gardot © Laurence Laborie



Being that Jersey girl, with English as your first language, how do you write songs that are not in English?

Melody Gardot: I’ve traveled and spent time in many countries (on purpose). Submerging yourself into a culture, I find, is the best way to learn quickly. After many years of roaming about, I’ve since picked up Spanish, Portuguese, French and currently have my heart set on mastering Italian and German. I love being able to speak multiple languages. Writing in another language (since you ask about music here) is as enriching as mastering a new instrument. It provides a new palette of colours for one to work with and at times is a tool to maintain interest in creation. Otherwise I would tend to get bored (with only one option on the table).

There are songs in French, Portuguese and English on Sunset in The Blue. How do you choose which language to use?

Melody Gardot: Often I don’t, the songs tend to choose themselves, bizarrely. Chalk it up to being multilingual. In certain cases, I will deliberately choose the words based on the sound they provide to the listener. For instance the word “leaves” can be quite hard sounding and less interesting to sing (and to listen to), whereas the word “folhas” floats off the tongue. This is why the word “folhas” is in the song ‘Cest Magnifique’. It’s merely because I liked the sound of it better.



“From Paris with Love” has such a warm rec-origin story. By using a virtual orchestra made up of quarantined musicians from around the world, you linked this song to the early stages of our worldwide lockdown and COVID-19 pandemic. Was it written with this message in mind? Or did you write it with a different purpose? If so what was that message?

Melody Gardot: The song served a purpose that none of us could have anticipated. However, the result is so much more beautiful now – don’t you think?

Absolutely. In fact, within the song you say, “Maybe one day I will see you, soon With love my love a kiss beneath the moon,” a lyric so filled with the strained, distant/ virtual closeness that many of us experienced during quarantine… and are still feeling today. Is this dichotomy something that you have experienced in other parts of life?

Melody Gardot: Absence makes the heart grow fonder, they say. Perhaps some will fall even more in love with the current distance playing part – we can only hope so.

Melody Gardot © 2020
Melody Gardot © 2020



Dream ride or die squad?

Melody Gardot: My two chihuahuas.

Where do we go from here? What do we have to look forward to in the upcoming adventures of Madame Gardot?

Melody Gardot: Every day is a new adventure. The road is always more interesting when we don’t know what’s waiting around the bend. All I can hope for is that it will be beautiful.

I hope so too. Thank you so much for spending some time with us and answering some questions! Good luck with everything and stay safe.

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Sunset in the Blue - Melody Gardot

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