It's like ice cream. You hear the name of a new flavor during some random conversation, so you buy a pint just to try it out. All it really takes is a single spoonful to know if you like it or not. And sometimes, you fall in love with just one taste.
For years people have asked me what my favorite CD was. Normally I would make them qualify the question with a genre, i.e. favorite R&B, favorite Rock, favorite Pop, and so forth. But deep down inside the answer always waiting to leap out was either 'My Life' by Mary J. Blige or 'Baduizm' by Erykah Badu. Both albums changed my life and the way I listen to my heart. Little did I know I had to make room for another at the top.
I'd heard the name Madeleine Peyroux many times. Happenstance brought me a copy of her latest album Careless Love even though I knew very little about her. So one unseasonably warm day I popped her CD into my system at home and faded in track one. And with that first taste, I made room for another favorite. Pardon me while I gush.
Madeleine Peyroux has an eerily familiar voice, much like that of the late Billie Holiday. Her vocals effortlessly slide over each note, coating the songs like hot fudge on vanilla Häagen-Dazs. Steamy and sweet, her style is not only subtle, it's enchanting.
Opening the CD is a great Leonard Cohen song called 'Dance Me To The End Of Love'. A piano, a double-bass, a guitar, and some brushed drums lay the backdrop for her brilliant jazz remake. It also sets the tone for the rest of the CD which has a similarly light style of accompaniment.
But it's not all jazz. There's blues, country ballads, torch songs, and even some pop. The broad range of tracks builds Careless Love into an album that's timeless.
'Weary Blues', a Hank Williams country classic, is reinvented into a beautiful down tempo story of longing. The wailing trumpet in the backdrop of sound brilliantly punctuates the song. Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome" is turned into a gentle shuffle with a Hammond organ in the background providing some brightness. The French 'J'ai Deux Amours', a Josephine Baker hit, is executed perfectly. You can almost smell the smoky nightclub it evokes.
In my spotlight is the original track 'Don't Wait Too Long', a playful groove with a universal message; take care of things today because who knows what will happen tomorrow. A message I wish more people could understand.
Across the entire album, Madeleine sounds so incredibly close to the microphone that you expect her to burst through your speakers, graciously apologize for such an entry, and serenade you until your toes curl. Yes, it's that good. Maybe even better than vanilla Häagen-Dazs...
With you in 4/4,