She credits music with saving her life after she was struck by a car while bicycling in Center City several years ago. Not yet 25, and still walking with a cane, Philadelphia's Melody Gardot has emerged as one of the rising young talents of jazz. Her new album is My One and Only Thrill, and while the title song seems to be about a lover, the singer-guitarist-pianist has said it's really about music itself. The album builds on the artistic success of Gardot's full-length debut, Worrisome Heart, with 10 moody and sensual originals whose emotional depth and maturity are matched by the spare but sophisticated orchestrations. The album also contains an upbeat, Brazilian-flavored version of "Over the Rainbow" that gives that overdone standard a fresh makeover.
- Nick Cristiano
Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural Jr. and his namesake band are not just about zydeco, although that infectiously propulsive dance music of the singer-accordionist's native southern Louisiana is at the heart of just about everything the group does. On its new album, Lay Your Burden Down, Buckwheat Zydeco again incorporates rock, R&B, soul, and reggae into its bayou sound with a set of strong Dural originals and songs by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Captain Beefheart, and Warren Haynes (the title cut). The album leads off with "When the Levee Breaks," a Memphis Minnie number later popularized by Led Zeppelin and now finding new relevance on Dural's first post-Katrina CD. It sets the tone for a richly substantive collection that faces up to hard times while conveying a joyous sense of resilience.
Patterson Hood's solo album is what a Drive-By Truckers fan would expect and want: a full set of Hood's character-driven songs, sung in his raspy, desperate voice, with plenty of Southern rock guitars and plenty of humor and detail.
Murdering Oscar (and Other Love Songs)
had a long, interrupted gestation: Hood wrote many of the 13 songs when he first moved to Athens, Ga., in 1994, before he and Mike Cooley formed the DBTs. He returned to the songs a decade later, wrote more, and recorded them in 2005, backed by many of his fellow Truckers, members of Centro-Matic, and others, including his father, David, bass player for the famous Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section. The album finally arrived Tuesday; already, the songs have aged well.
- Steve Klinge