Madeline Peyroux – Careless Love – Rounder Records (2004)/Craft Recordings CR00285 (2021) Special Edition 180-gram stereo triple vinyl ****1/2:
Craft Recordings releases a vibrant triple vinyl of Madeline Peyroux’s 2004 classic
(Madeline Peyroux – acoustic guitar, vocals; Dean Parks – guitar; Larry Goldings – piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, Estey organ, Hammond organ, celeste; David Pilch – double bass; Jay Bellerose – drums, percussion; Lee Thornburgh – trumpet; Scott Amendola – brushes, drums; Kevin Hayes – piano; Matt Penman – bass)
Jazz singers often compete with formidable legacies. Nearly all of them will inevitably be compared to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan, and if they venture into blues, Bessie Smith. Madeline Peyroux has become a prominent jazz vocalist by embracing jazz and blues roots with enthusiasm. As a teenager she moved to Paris, and became a highly regarded street performer, subsequently touring Europe with The Lost Wandering Jazz And Blues Band. Eventually, she was discovered and signed to Atlantic Records. Her 1996 debut, Dreamland included covers of songs by Fats Waller, Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith. The album garnered positive reviews. Peyroux’s breakthrough came eight years later with Careless Love, released on Rounder Records. This album featured covers of folk, country, jazz and blues tunes.
Craft Recordings has released a re-mastered triple vinyl of Careless Love. In addition to the original album, there is a previously unreleased 2-LP live performance from Festival de Jazz de Vitoria-Gasteiz. Careless Love has excellent session players including Dean Parks (guitar) and Larry Giddings (piano, keyboards) Side One opens with a finger-snapping jazzy take on Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me To The End Of Love”. Peyroux’s vocal style is lilting and smoky…and yes, reminiscent of Billie Holiday. Giddings backs up perceptively with nimble runs on the piano. Peyroux has a coy, silky delivery and showcases this on her lone original composition, “Don’t Wait Too Long”. The complementary accompaniment blends perfectly with her nuanced vocal delivery. Parks contributes a lithe guitar solo to enhance this relaxed jaunty arrangement. Drawing on vintage blues, “Don’t Cry Baby” is delivered with subtlety, differentiating it from other blues versions. Peyroux re-imagines Bob Dylan’s winsome “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” (from Blood On The Tracks) as laid-back jazz/pop. Her vocal phrasing captures the spirit of the tune. In a change of pace, Elliot Smith’s “Between The Bars” is atmospheric with a gossamer delivery in waltz-time. It seems inevitable Billie Holiday covers would happen. “No More” exudes laconic balladry that Peyroux delivers with weary elegance. A trumpet solo (Lee Thornburgh) infuses a jazz aesthetic.
There are great, eclectic numbers on this album. “Lonesome Road” was a sort of bluesy pop ditty, sung by the likes of Ted Lewis, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. This version has a breezy tempo and classic melancholy delivery by the singer. Parks’ slow-groove tones are hypnotic. Peyroux’s charm and soulful essence take center stage on “J’ai Deux Amours”. It is laid-back and accessible. One of the more interesting selections is Hank Williams’ “Weary Blues”. Peyroux distills the innate sadness of the “Hillbilly Shakespeare” against a country-waltz time signature. A heavenly electric piano and saucy trumpet add significant texture. Another change of pace is the sentimental ballad, “I’ll Look Around”. Here, the vocal presentation is reticent, but articulated with deep feeling. On the title track, vintage Americana (via traditional roots and W.C. Handy) is presented with sorrowful resonance. It is ideally suited for this chanteuse. On the finale, “This Is Heaven To Me”, there is a direct connection to Lady Day with the wistful elocution.
There are two live vinyls that offer spontaneous interpretations of Careless Love material with a different backup band. There are additional covers that demonstrate Peyroux’s flexibility as a singer. Patsy Cline’s immortal “Walking After Midnight” gets a loping country/blues treatment framed by mellow organ and a blustery saxophone. Peyroux incorporates Cline’s melancholic inflection into her jazzy repertoire. With a tempo uptick, she breezes through one of Dinah Washington’s signature pieces, “Destination Moon”. The arrangement is straight-ahead jazz showcasing classic piano trio aesthetics and instrumental soling. The swing can be felt on “I Hear Music” (another Holiday standard). It feels jazzier, especially the vocals. This live set is freewheeling and emphasizes collaboration. “Lonesome Road’ opens with an unexpected drum solo. There are many engaging musical highlights.
This triple vinyl reissue of Careless Love is excellent!
Side One: Dance Me To The End Of Love; Don’t Wait Too Long: Don’t Cry Baby; You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go; Between The Bars; No More
Side Two: Lonesome Road; J’ai Deux Amours; Weary Blues; I’ll Look Around; Careless Love; This Is Heaven To Me
Live At Festival de Jazz de Vitoria-Gasteiz:
Side Three: Dance Me To The End Of Love; Don’t Cry Baby; Don’t Wait Too Long; You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
Side Four: Between The Bars; J’ai Deux Amours; Walking After Midnight; No More
Side Five: Lonesome Road; I Hear Music; I’ll Look Around
Side Six: Careless Love; Destination Moon; This Is Heaven To Me.