Melody Gardot a Voice That Smolders but Still Plays It Cool


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Through much of her hourlong show at the Blender Theater at Gramercy on Thursday night, Melody Gardot weighed vulnerability against seductiveness, without really taking sides.

“Quiet Fire," one of her slinkier tunes, summed up the situation well. “I'm burning up," Ms. Gardot cooed, before issuing a coy invitation, a pledge of surrender and, in the chorus, this petition: “All I want is somebody to love me like I do." The whisper of vanity in that refrain was only slightly less noticeable than its cry of unfulfilled desire.

Smoldering becomes Ms. Gardot, whose voice carries a soft allure even on brighter fare. At the close of her encore, in a sprint through the Tizol-Ellington-Mills standard “Caravan," she summoned the composure of a young June Christy. Elsewhere, drawing mainly from her Verve debut album, “Worrisome Heart," she basked in heartache. Cracking wise from behind her dark glasses, she gave the impression of a film noir savant with equal sympathies for the femme fatale and the ingnue.

Ms. Gardot has come to her chosen aesthetic from an extraordinary place. Four years ago, as a 19-year-old fashion student in Philadelphia, she was involved in a hit-and-run accident, sustaining serious spinal injuries. (She wears the dark glasses because of her hypersensitivity to light, one of the many symptoms that have persisted since that trauma.) Music aided her rehabilitation: unable to play the piano while convalescing, she took up the guitar and made her first EP, “Some Lessons: The Bedroom Sessions."

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