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Madeleine Peyroux

Madeleine Peyroux Half the Perfect World (Rounder Records;
September 2006)

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Jazzy, smooth, and a little blue: when listening to Madeleine
Peyroux, one cannot help but think of Billie Holiday’s effortless
brilliance. With songs by Johnny Mercer, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell,
Leonard Cohen, and even Charlie Chaplin, Peyroux’s new album takes
a leisurely stroll down a tree-lined boulevard with a glass of
champagne.

The opening track, “I’m All Right,” currently enjoying regular
airplay on erudite jazz stations nationwide, is the tale of a woman
clearly missing her stogie-smokin’ beau and talking herself through
the painful void. Peyroux’s world-weary giggling on the tune gives
some insight to her warm, natural style.

“Blue Alert,” a Leonard Cohen/Anjani Thomas tune, offers the
snazziest bit of warnings. To wit, if love is on the horizon,
surely painful times are to come: “You cut your hand on the edge of
her pleated skirt…any way you turn it’s gonna hurt.” Her duet with
k.d. lang on Joni Mitchell’s “River” is a cup of hot tea while
sitting in front of the fireplace during the first snow of the
year. Their voices are distinctly different but flow gently
together, like the freedom-giving river they sing about. “Once in a
While,” co-written by Peyroux, has the chanteuse slowly moving away
from bad luck while reflecting on a love long past, “I’m not
looking backward for something that’s gone.”

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Madeleine Peyroux - Half the Perfect World (Bonus Track)

Peyroux deftly manages an easy grasp of mood, no matter whose
tune it is. Tom Wait’s “(Looking for) the Heart of Saturday Night”
and “Smile” by Charlie Chaplin (love that ukulele!) both exude a
light hopefulness and soft optimism much-needed in this world.
Cynics, prepare to melt.

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