As the cold weather approaches, Peyroux offers warmth and comfort. Her voice is like warm butterscotch syrup coating ice cream. Her story is one of those classic “rags to riches” tales, detailed in spellbinding fashion by Yves Beauvais, former A& R man of Atlantic Records, in the liner notes. Beauvais discovered Peyroux in her twenties in New York, after she had spent her teenage years busking in Paris. Peyroux was covering female jazz vocalists of the 30s and 40s, most noticeably Billie Holiday. He recalls her set this way: “…some of the most exciting, viscerally moving minutes of music-listening life.” Now, seven albums later, Peyroux has established herself as one of the best song interpreters of our time, a kind of jazz-blues version of Emmylou Harris.
This album features mostly sessions produced by either Beauvais or Larry Klein with 5 of the 15 selections from 2004’s Careless Love. The one previously unreleased track is the title track, a cover of Warren Zevon’s “Keep Me in Your Heart,” from the 2011 independent movie, Union Square. Compare 1996’s “(Getting Some) Fun Out of Life” to the orchestral backing on last year’s, Randy Newman penned, “Guilty”, to appreciate her maturation as a vocalist. In terms of the selections, the balance is understandably weighted toward the Rounder releases. A more democratic parsing of the seven albums may have revealed a clearer exposition of Peyroux’s musical progression.
I found myself looking for something edgy in her vocals but that’s not Madeleine’s wont. She is consistently unruffled and smooth. When approaching the listen with that in mind, you’ll marvel at her sophisticated, effortless phrasing.
– Jim Hynes