I made a special guest appearance on the Leisure & Arts page of this morning’s Wall Street Journal to write about Madeleine Peyroux:
Eight years ago, Madeleine Peyroux was a star on the rise. “Dreamland,” her debut album, was selling nicely (200,000 copies, all told). Critics were fascinated by the idea of a singer-guitarist from Brooklyn who’d learned her trade from the street musicians of Paris, where she lived as a girl. Though she sounded very much like Billie Holiday in the late Forties–the same salty rasp, the same squeezed-out spurts and swoops–her music, a torchy blend of blues, country and old-time pop, bore no resemblance to the middle-aged Holiday’s languorous brand of jazz. Ms. Peyroux (prounounced pe-RU, like the country) first caught my ear, for instance, with a lazy, loping cover version of Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight,” a staple of broken-bottle honky-tonks the world over.
So what did she do for an encore? She disappeared.
Not only did Ms. Peyroux fail to follow up “Dreamland” with a sequel, but she did virtually no performing in public between 1997 and 2002. No one seemed to know what had happened to her, though I found vague hints scattered around the Internet….
Then–just as abruptly and inexplicably–Ms. Peyroux resurfaced. Rounder, the highly regarded independent country-bluegrass-jazz label, announced earlier this year that it had signed her to a recording contract. In June she opened for Gary Burton at the Blue Note, one of New York’s top jazz clubs. “Careless Love,” her long-awaited second album, was released this week, and on Monday she kicks off a week-long run at another high-end Manhattan nightspot, Le Jazz Au Bar.
All this would mean little were it not for the fact that “Careless Love” is a stunner, a laid-back, quietly sexy stroll through a dozen songs that appear to have nothing in common save that Ms. Peyroux, accompanied by a crack team of Los Angeles session men anchored by the peerless jazz organist Larry Goldings, sings each one as though it had been written for her personally….
No link, so if you want to read the whole thing, you have two options:
(1) Go to a newsstand and buy today’s Journal.
(2) Sign up for the online edition of The Wall Street Journal, which costs half as much as an ink-on-paper subscription and gives you complete access to each day’s edition, plus various other bells, whistles, and special features. Do this and you also get to read my drama column–starting tomorrow! If you’re interested, go here.
To purchase Careless Love (which I strongly recommend) or listen to samples thereof, go here.
Madeleine Peyroux’s Web site (which includes the itinerary for her upcoming concert tour) is here.
Le Jazz Au Bar’s Web site is here.
Now, get cracking.
UPDATE: Careless Love is now #4 on amazon.com, while www.madeleinepeyroux.com appears to have crashed, presumably from unexpectedly high traffic. Whoooee!