Songstress Madeleine Peyroux is known to her fans for intimately arranged covers
of the early American blues and jazz repertoire. She began as a teenage busker, honing her vocal and guitar skills on the famously quaint, acoustic streets of Europe, where she molded her style on the cornerstones of jazz: Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong. Amidst an oddly sparse recording career beginning in 1996, she is most known for her 2005 release ‘Careless Love’ (Rounder Records), produced by Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock) who fused Peyroux's personal and vulnerable take on more modern material, i.e., Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, cult legend Elliott Smith, with that of her beloved torch songs and early blues.
Peyroux took a turn into uncharted territory with her last album, ‘Bare Bones’, a collection of self-penned compositions and co-writes with heavy hitters such as Joe Henry and Steely Dan’s Walter Becker. Although generally met with critical acclaim, it garnered less attention than her previous work. She toured until mid 2010, including a triple bill with Diana Krall and Melody Gardot in Australia, and is now keeping behind the scenes in preparation for a return to the studio. Producer Craig Street (Cassandra Wilson, Joe Henry, Chocolate Genius, Norah Jones) is set to hold the reigns this time, and the album will be all new compositions. "I have been building on the relationships I developed in co-writing, and something new has taken hold of me," Peyroux says. "This project is meant to be a wider dreamscape than previous recordings. I'm interested in exploring tougher sounds, even ugly sounds... trying to find something more raw
than the voice that I have now, and in the accompaniment that I have become used to."
One interesting collaborator that may have the key to opening new doors is the Rolling Stones’, Bill Wyman, whom Peyroux met at the Nice Jazz Festival while waiting to hear B.B. King, and the two then began writing together. A strong point for Peyroux this year was performing their song for the children of a displaced persons' camp in Port-au- Prince, Haiti this summer. The song, entitled 'The Kind You Can't Afford', Peyroux says, is a testament to owning what money can't buy. About the visit, she recounts, "I've had
a sincere desire to be in Haiti ever since I started reading Edwidge Danticat, but never did visit before the storm. It was a life-changing experience which I'll always remember, and the songs I performed there will now always have that flavor of pure music and joy in my memory." Other current collaborators include Jonatha Brooke, David Batteau, Andy Rosen, and Jenny Scheinman.
The album is due to be released in 2011, and Peyroux plans to begin touring again in the US and Europe in early spring. "I think my fans are eager to hear something different," Peyroux says, and pauses with restraint before adding, "Music has grown into another place in my mind... I am the same singer that I was as a teen, that wants to grow into music, wherever it comes from. I don’t believe I’ve given up anything. I’ve added to myself.” Let's hope that that little air of restraint doesn't hold her back.
Written by Rye Chusley