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Album Review

Madeleine Peyroux, 'Bare Bones'

March 9, 2009
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Jazz
Madeleine Peyroux Bare Bones
Rounder
ESSENTIAL "Instead"

Stylistically, "Bare Bones" is more of the same from Madeleine Peyroux. But who complains about more of the same when it's another dish of hot fudge sundae or another night in Paris? What's different on this, Peyroux's fourth album, is that all of the songs are originals. As its title suggests, this is a laid-back, stripped-down affair. The lyrics, too, suggest that we slow down, decide to be happy, and enjoy life. "Instead of feelin' low/ Get high on everything that you love," she sings on "Instead." "Stop all this talk/ Turn off the telephone/ Open up another bottle," she invites on "River of Tears." "The life I have now is much more appealing/ No hurries, no worries for me," she announces on "Homeless Happiness." Peyroux's voice - which still sounds eerily like Billie Holiday's - is captured wonderfully here, and her instrumentalists put on a master class in how to accompany a singer. Restraint is the modus operandi, with guitarist Dean Parks and organist Larry Goldings paying particularly close attention to where the words go so that their phrases don't end up on top of hers. Only on "You Can't Do Me," co-written with Steely Dan's Walter Becker, do things rock even lightly. "Bare Bones" is a beautifully slow-cooked album that encourages us to look on the bright side. Not a bad message these days. (Out tomorrow)

STEVE GREENLEE

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