Monday, November 13, 2006

Madeleine Peyroux - Half The Perfect World (2006)

Both Of Madeleine Peyroux’s first two CDs, Dreamland (1996) and Careless Love (2004), benefited from great song selection as well as inspired performances. Unfortunately, while the singer still possesses great taste in chosing songs for Half The Perfect World her lackluster performance makes her third album not even half perfect.

Maybe I’m too familiar with Frank Sinatra’s classic, swinging arrangement of "Summer Wind" to fully appreciate Peyroux’s version that just sounds tired. Even less successful is her interpretation of Harry Nilsson’s "Everybody’s Talking." While her Sinatra cover is just lethargic Nilsson's song sounds like Peyroux is singing in bed under heavy sedation. Joni Mitchell’s "River" is a duet featuring K. D. Lang on a very slow paced dirge in which Lang totally dominates her hostess. This track would fit better on Lang's Hymns of the 49th Parallel, especially when you consider that the composer is Canadian. Only on Leonard Cohen’s "Blue Alert," and "I’m All Right," a tune she co-wrote with Steely Dan’s Walter Becker, does Peyroux show any spunk or offer the slightest hint she may be having a good time.

I like Madeleine Peyroux. Her first two CDs are top drawer, and I’ve always defended her against charges that she is nothing more than a Billie Holiday clone, but next time out she needs to add a little spice to her work or I'll fall asleep right along with her.

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