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Madeleine Peyroux - Bare Bones

2009-04-23 11:10
Bare Bones
It's actually all about today, a collection of original songs on which Peyroux collaborates with some of the best 70s-originated songwriting talent, then performs with all the Billie Holiday glam and depressing glory of the bad old days.

Take this line from the Paul-Simonesque title track, in which Peyroux for the first time mentions her father's close personal relationship with whiskey: "I got these bare bones - he left me something after all". The lyrics weave like liquid pouring between rocks, the melody sliding easily from bar to bar.

Then there's the beautiful, still lament of "Damn the Circumstances", which contrasts survival and inherited tragedy, opening with "My heart is like a hand-me-down…" Sticking with the theme, Peyroux drinks down the pain an alcoholic caused her. Next, "You can't do me" (with its clear echos of co-composer Walter Becker's Steely Dan classic "Haitian Divorce") raises the tempo, but not the spirits with a mixture of defiance and humour - having said it won't happen again, she describes being "Blewed like a Mississippi sharecropper/Screwed like a highschool cheerleader"... almost as if she misses it.

Not a lot of light here, but Peyroux is very good company. She brings vocal jazz back to the future, and gives you the place to feel the blues. If you have something to mourn, this music's pretty close to perfection.

When it opens with the speakeasy-styled "Instead" - about making the best of bad situations - just press skip to get to the good stuff because Bare Bones is more than just another album written for folksy PollyAnnas living music's smoky past.

What to read next: Kalahari
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