French natives Les Gadjos are a modern day swing act whose approach to making music mixes a retro style with a dash of the contemporary. Playing together since 2004, the Parisian ensemble are a regular presence on their home town’s live scene and have also been known to venture out to festivals and venues across both their motherland and the UK. While they use swing as their base genre, the band also cite jazz and rock – as well as Oriental motifs and movie scores – as influencing their sound; all of which is abundantly evident on their latest EP, Mademoiselle James.
“Elephant Blues” begins the compilation by fusing very ethnic sounding musical elements with a touch of retro-pop that establishes a slow and steady rhythm. Vivid vocals develop at an equally relaxed pace, resulting in a cool and composed piece that saunters along with a carefree attitude.
“Sometimes” feels like a very natural extension of its predecessor, commencing with subtle, exotic instrumentation. The smooth French vocals of the verse make a seamless transition to English in the chorus, blurring the barriers between languages. The momentum accelerates towards the end, culminating in a jazzy and jovial conclusion.
A fun vibe continues into “DeadEnd Street” as it bounces off with a lively beat. The melody and saxophone cues are playful and audacious, lending quite a cheeky sound to the whole affair.
Finale, “Clap Hands”, starts with a breezy intro, sailing into vocals that keep things aloof, yet exude enthusiasm and energy. Mellow saxophone work unfolds over unperturbed guitars and percussion. When combined, it all creates a rather nonchalant ambience.
Les Gadjos deserve to be commended for adopting a genre that was at the height of its popularity over half a century ago and making it feel relevant in the here and now. The personal touch they add by incorporating elements from several other similar yet distinct styles ensures their material has a unique quality. It’s worth investigating if you’re looking for some easy listening that’s a bit of a departure from the norm.