1. Martha My Dear
2. The Kind You Can't Afford
3. Leaving Home Again
4. The Things I've Seen Today
5. Fickle Dove
6. Lay Your Sleeping Head, My Love
7. Standing On The Rooftop
8. I Threw It All Away
9. The Party Oughta Be Coming Soon
11. Love In Vain
12. Don't Pick A Fight With A Poet
13. Meet Me In Rio
15. The Way Of All Things
Madeleine Peyroux - Vocals
Charlie Drayton - Drums
Christopher Bruce, Marc Ribot - Guitars
Me'Shell Ndegeocello - Bass
John Kirby, Glenn Patscha, Patrick Warren - Keyboards
Mauro Refosco - Percussion
Jenny Scheinman - Violin
Allen Toussaint - Piano
The 2011 iteration of Madeleine Peyroux is a far cry from the singer/songwriter who launched her career in 1996 with her debut album Dreamland. In that outing Peyroux was the composer of three tunes; on this latest release she is responsible for eleven compositions, either as the sole writer or in partnership with other well-known tunesmiths. In addition, she has become a vocalist of more assurance, conviction and stylishness.
Surrounding herself with a group of varied, but well-respected musicians, Peyroux has embarked on a song cycle that touches most of those well- worn facets of American music, including four cover versions. For example, the disc leads off with a minor Lennon & McCartney tune Martha My Dear which has an unhurried brooding interpretation. The Auden poem Lay Your Sleeping Head, My Love is set to music by Marc Ribot, but should have remained as a poem. More successful is the Dylan composition I Threw It All Away and especially the Robert Johnson classic Love In Vain which delivers the goods both in terms of the arrangement and Peyroux's soulful take on the tune.
As for her own compositions, the overall description would be that they are introspective, unassuming, and offer a sameness in tempo. However that does not mean that there are not some charmers in the bunch. The Kind You Can't Afford, co-authored by Peyroux and a former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman, is a blues with attitude. Two other tunes, The Things I've Seen Today and Fickle Dove, which were done in collaboration with violinist Jenny Scheinman, display interesting foundations for Peyroux's straightforward vocals. There are several tracks that have a passing acquaintance with jazz-inspired vocals and they are Meet Me In Rio, Ophelia and The Way Of All Things.
It should be noted that the UK-released disc has 15 tracks while the North American version has 12. Overall the disc is interesting but not entirely memorable and the three extra tracks in the UK release don't necessarily add value.