CARELESS LOVE (Rounder) Madeleine Peyroux
For the past few days, I've been living on a three and a half minute plot of audio real estate owned by singer Madeleine Peyroux. The sky here is a deep French blue, there's a warm breeze blowing and, to borrow a line from the lyric, it's a place where I could "stay forever and never realize the time." The song in question is Peyroux's sublime cover of Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go," a standout from the singer's long overdue second album.
You know how it is when you get stuck on a song. It becomes your cup of coffee in the morning, your prayer before bedtime. Of course, a record review has to encompass more than a single song (though this one would be reason enough to buy the album). The good news is that beyond the Dylan tune, there are acres of beauty.
"Don't Cry Baby" coasts along on a mentholated carpet of organ and downstroked guitar chords, while "Weary Blues" is a heartbreaking yawn of melody that sounds like it was cut at 5 a.m. on an overcast morning. The Elliott Smith dirge "Between The Bars" is appropriately dark and moody. The French cabaret standard "J'ai Deux Amours" is all kissing-close intimacy (kudos to producer Larry Klein, who keeps the backing spare and tasteful throughout the whole disc). And Madeleine's playful take on Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me To The End Of Love" swings like a young Billie Holiday.
Speaking of Lady Day, for those who've never heard Peyroux sing, be prepared. She sounds like she just stepped off the stage of a 1930s supper club in Harlem. Her voice is coquettish, sassy, and world-weary, with a 78 rpm graininess. Its not just that you can hear the influence of Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby and especially Holiday. It's almost as if Peyroux was a contemporary who, through some rip in the time-space continuum, has ended up in our overemotive, athletic pop scene of 2004. One thing for sure, she's the coolest anachronism you'll meet this year. Bill DeMain
sure to check out another Madeleine site,