If Melody Gardot's 2009 sophomore effort, My One and Only Thrill, sustained the sultry, atmospheric vibe of her critically acclaimed 2006 debut, her 2012 follow-up, The Absence, is a bit of a creative departure for the vocalist. Apparently inspired by her world travels, and specifically by a trip that brought her to the desert around the city of Marrakech, the album moves her away from smoky, small-group jazz and into a bright, if still bedroom-eyed, rhythmically exotic sound. Produced by guitarist/composer Heitor Pereira, the album is a lush, somewhat orchestral album that finds Gardot delving into various Brazilian, Spanish, and African-influenced sounds -- including bits of samba, tango, bossa nova, and calypso -- that evince her global journey. However, rather than simply making a standards album, Gardot continues her all-original approach, offering up new literate and passionately delivered compositions that bring to mind the work of such similarly inclined artists as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Paul Simon, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and others. Although there are a few name musicians who help add spice to Gardot's musical caravan here, including percussionist Paulinho Da Costa, drummer Peter Erskine, and bassist John Leftwich, primarily it is still Gardot's burnished and yearning vocal style that takes the helm on these tracks.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar