Τributes

Madeleine Peyroux


When you listen to her for the first time you definitely wonder ... “When was this song first heard? She reminds me of someone, but not that I remember” Very aptly a radio producer compared her to “Billie Holiday” and here is where one exclaims “YES! She reminds me of her”.

This of course could not be very flattering, for an artist to be compared with a legend, but in case of Madeleine Peyroux it does not apply, because even if she sings Billie Holiday or Bessie Smith, she makes their songs special and convincingly her “own” ones . The lyrics of her songs are also outrageous, but her passion is not identical to that of the Jazz masters,she is more restrained, almost expressionless, and she does not make me think that she is moved to tears with every song.

She admits that “the tone of her voice is affected by Holiday and the resemblance to her sound has been the center of her success.”

From an interview in the newspaper “The Toronto Star”.

Personally I believe that beyond the color of her voice she has a unique own style, something of the old vocal jazz, but modernized and in no case she may be regarded as an immitator of anyone, but as the natural continuation of the great ladies of jazz. Multidimensional Madeleine Peyroux has recorded not only jazz, but pop, country and folk-rock compositions with her own lyrics.

When she was 13 she moved with her mother in Paris where she met a group of French musicians who loved classic American Jazz and Blues. For that period of her life she says “It was a very advantageous position to be in,to have this music and be able to share it with people.”

From an interview in the newspaper “The Buffalo News”.

In 1996 at the age of 22 she made her debut with the album “Dreamland”, a composition of 12 melancholic pieces. As the title suggests, the album shows a disposition to return to the old,including covers of Patsy Cline, Fred Ahlert, Edith Piaf,  Bessie Smith etc., but to her own compositions as well. This album leaves the audience electrified, and that  period  she makes  a tour with top performers in pop, rock and folk music scene and participates in major festivals of jazz.

She remains far from the spotlights, without stopping to sing and seven years later she returns with the album “Careless Love”. The recipe is similar to the “Dreamland”, but with many more “flavors” of music, including classics such as Bob Dylan's “You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” and Leonard Cohen's “Dance Me to the End of Love.” From the French songs Peyroux  does not select the ones by  Edith Piaf for the album, but those of the Afroamerikan Josephine Baker. During  this tour in 2004, she enjoys the same popularity she had with the Dreamland 8 years earlier.

Stephen Holden, critic for The New York Times calls her “a quiet but powerful rebel against the flamboyant and shameless motivation of pop.”

A few months before the “Careless Love”  she released  “Got You On my Mind” with her ex boy friend  jazz musician William Gallison, created during the period 1999-200, but which did not have the same impact.

In October 2006 her third album is released, titled “Half the Perfect World”, and which is not significantly different from the previous ones. It also has a large collection of mainly arrangements, although in this album she tentatively puts her signature in 4 pieces with the help of producer Larry Klein. The best arrangement for many is the “River” of Joni Mitchell. In this duet of  Peyroux with Kd Lang, their voices are so similar that it is very difficult to distinguish. Of course the original “River” remains unsurpassed, but both singers perform very well in the heartbreaking song. Once again Peyroux's talent is confirmed,  to make arrangements to pieces without alienating them and especially without making unhappy the fans of the original versions.

In 2009, Peyroux with her fourth album “Bare Bones” wins again the attention of critics. This time not only for her vocal but also for her songwriting abilities, since she writes songs by herself or in collaboration with Joe Henry, Julian Coryell, David Batteau and Sean Wayland. This album for Madeleine Peyroux was an artistic overstepping, which combines the exceptional timbre voice with a collection of songs, for which she now participates in their creation marking her evolution as a songwriter.

After a success probably she has the need to stay in the background for some time,  and after 2009  she reappears in 2011 with a single that contains a modest but elegant version of Beatles' “Martha My Dear”  and “The things I 've seen Today” which was written with the violinist Jenny Scheinman. The single  is a harbinger of “Standing on the Rooftop” which was released in June 2011. This time Peyroux wrote 8 out of the 12 songs based on poems she had written before, while the other 3 were great arrangements like “I Threw It All Away” by Bob Dylan, and “Love in Vain” by Robert Johnson. In addition the album contains an interesting version, set to music, of the poem “Lay Your Sleeping Head, My Love” of W.H. Auden.

This album has been described as “Pleasant enough for a backyard soiree, but too breezy to linger once your guests leave.” (http://www.pastemagazine.com )

In a noisy world , Madeleine Peyroux exudes calm when interpreting and has the ability to calm the audience only with her voice. She manages to reflect the music trend of the past on today, creating a sense of quality at a time when our identity is lost.

“I think of singing as another language. When you get fluent in another language and start to think in it you take on certain freedoms because you can construct ideas, create things in that language to get yourself out of trouble. Singing gets me out of trouble.” Madeleine Peyroux

Eva Koussi 18 October 2011