My One and Only Thrill, the second full length CD by Melody Gardot, is a more sophisticated affair than her debut, Worrisome Heart. On several tracks the Philadelphia based singer-songwriter, who plays acoustic guitar and piano, adds a new edge to low volume music because she frequently creates a deep, smoldering groove that feels like it’s about to become white hot yet never does. She and her band are probably the only musicians on the current music scene who can play with so much intensity without raising the volume. Just listen to the CD's best song, "Who Will Comfort Me," for a wonderful example of the twenty-four year old's ultra-low key jazz chops.
Thrill also showcases a full string section on many tracks, something she didn’t use on her more low budget, but still satisfying, debut. Unfortunately, producer Larry Klein (who also worked with Joni Mitchell and Madeleine Peyroux) and Gardot use the strings to excess, pushing her superb band into the back seat of this high end vehicle too often for my liking. Many of the songs in the mid-section of the disc are so laden down with strings, so quiet and so slow, that you begin to think they are just going to stop completely or simply vanish into thin air.
Right now the best way to capture Gardot is in live performance where she and her very talented sidemen do what they do best: play some of the most glorious small group jazz I've ever heard.