When an artist releases a quality first album, there’s a danger of second album syndrome. Sophomore slump, while common, is neatly sidestepped by the sheer class of My One and Only Thrill, the second album by Pennsylvanian jazz virtuoso Melody Gardot. Her debut, Worrisome Heart, is a good album; this album is brilliant.
There are some interesting melodies here; the gentle Your Heart Is As Black As Night, while lovely, sounds like a mash-up of the seminal St. James Infirmary Blues and Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins. Nevertheless, there is genius at work here. The songs on My One and Only Thrill sound like jazz standards, helped along by Vince Mendoza's delicately arranged strings and Larry Klein's loving production.
As beautiful as it is, My One and Only Thrill has a few bumps. Gardot's cover of Over the Rainbow lacks the subtlety of her originals, and some of the slower numbers- Our Love Is Easy and The Rain in particular- owe rather too much to Nina Simone at her most dirgelike. They're rescued by inspired pieces like the beautifully bilingual Les Etoiles, sung in both French and English, and the charming, breezy If The Stars Were Mine. Live tracks help to round out this album's aesthetic, though the slick production carries over to the live tracks so well that one could be forgiven for thinking they were live-in-studio.
It's a gem of an album- the songs are top-notch, the backing is strong but unobtrusive, and the elegance of the production helps Gardot's graceful vocals really shine. Smooth strings and velvety vocals make for a wonderful listen, glowing with pop nouse and sophistication. Instant classic.