They call New Orleans – The Big Easy for many reasons. Music lovers might think of it as the source for a sound that is just so easy to love. In addition to the jazz and even zydeco rhythms, New Orleans, Louisiana boasts a strong tradition of blues and rock. It’s the precipice and even main ingredient in the gumbo stew that Christina Gaudet brings to the table in her impressive album, Manhattan Oz: A Gotham Odyssey. The album is an expansive soundscape that dives deeper into Gaudet’s time in New York City, a musician and artist fighting for her sound and her art, only to pine for her Cajun roots and the Bayou background.
Manhattan Oz: A Gotham Odyssey features John Zych, Eric Johnson, Nathan Stevens, David Rockower, George Varghese, Trevor Sewell and EJ Ouelette. Gaudet steels the spotlight but is more than willing to share that limelight. The sound on the tracks is nothing short of tight musicianship and blazing passion for the sounds and the heart of this record. Songs like “New York City” (track one) and “Breathe Fierce Love” (track two) move the listener into a high octane, energized arena. The beats and the rhythms just jump off the album, and these two songs, in particular, beg to be listened to in a live setting. Gaudet seems to have a knack for crafting songs that elicit the idea of a jam, and vice-versa, she brings the magic of a live show into the studio.
Gaudet’s vocals have just a slight lace of rasp. In “Transend Time” and “Living It Till I Die” the listener can hear just a bit more vulnerability (as compared to the first two songs). Gaudet tickles the keys with years of experience and life-lessons. You can feel the tide turn by “Tested By Dragons”. Gaudet keeps this journey close to her heart, but in many ways these songs are open diary confessions and revelations. She’s missing home and New York isn’t fully representational of her essence. Louisiana is her true North.
In “Immigrants”, Gaudet lays out the framework of her family tree. The blues rock gem is a reminder that we all come from somewhere and sometimes that somewhere is all over the map. The pride she feels for her French-Cajun roots is immense – just as big as the beat and the bass grooves. She continues that love in “Black Bayou”. This standout moves the dial even more so – a vibrant guitar riff and Gaudet’s transfixing vocals. She really belts out the love in this one.
The Last trio of songs, “Hold Out For Love”, “Lessons Of The Water” and “New Renaissance” convey deep love for not only music and her own story, but that life can move forward. There’s hope. Gaudet sings with flair and she sings with the abandonment you want and expect from a female lead singer. Listeners that love Bonnie Raitt, Alannah Myles, Melissa Etheridge, Irma Thomas and Fats Domino will fall for Gaudet. This is the sound I’ve been wanting and waiting for this year – so fulfilling.