Madeleine Peyroux – Somethin’ Grand (2009)

by | Dec 2, 2009 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Madeleine Peyroux – Somethin’ Grand (2009)

Concert Film directed by George Scott
Musicians: Madeleine Peyroux, vocals & guitar; Jim Beard, Sam Yahel, Lisa Germano, Larry Klein, Dean Parks, Joey Waronker

Program: Dance Me to the End of Love, Bare Bones, River of Tears, Damn the Circumstances, I’m All Right, A Little Bit, La Javanaise, You’re Gonne Make Me Lonesome When You Go, Between the Bars, Our Lady of Pigalle, Love and Treachery, I Must be Saved, Instead, You Can’t Do Me, Don’t Wait Too Long, Somethin’ Grand, La Vie en Rose; Acoustic Session: J’ai Deu Amours, Getting Some Fun Out of Life, Don’t Cry Baby Don’t Cry, Instead, Somethin’ Grand

Studio: Rounder [Release date: 11/24/09]
Video: 16:9 color
No region encoding
Audio: DTS 5.1, DD 2.0
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese
Extras: Documentary “Somethin’ Grand” (BBC production)
Length: 142 minutes
Rating: *****

Here’s a female singer who really stands out from the crowd.  Madeleine Peyroux started out as a busker on the streets of Paris.  While she was born in Georgia, she moved with her French mother to Paris at age 13. When A & R people wanted her to make a record and start a concert career she at first resisted, but we should be thankful she finally gave in. A Paris musician friend gave her a cassette of some Billy Holiday songs and told her to learn them. She did – recreating them to an astonishing degree. Now after voice training and direction she has her own vocal style, still with a haunting touch of the Holiday approach, and has even begun to write her own songs.  The five acoustic-only performances that round out the concert furnish the bare bones in their own way, similar to MTV’s Unplugged.

Many of Peyroux’s own songs are among the 17 on this intimate program, which was videotaped just last January at a club in Los Angeles.  They are also heard on her latest Rounder CD, “Bare Bones.”  Her band and their arrangements are perfect to back her subtle jazz/pop cabaret-sort of approach. She nearly always sings with her trusty and beat-up guitar around her neck, but these are not your expected folk songs. Among the covers are songs by Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Edith Piaf and Serge Gainsbourg. Most of the originals have Peyroux collaborating with her music producer/guitarist Larry Klein as well as Steely Dan’s Walter Becker.

The 50-minute documentary on Madeleine is a fine bonus to the concert videos. It was done by the BBC and features Madeleine, her mother, some of her  fellow musicians and teachers, and some music critics who have been particularly impressed by her unique vocal abilities. Her background and history are covered skillfully, making one wish such well done in-depth documentaries were included with more video concerts.

 – John Henry

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