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3.6 out of 5 stars
Standing on the Rooftop
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2011
Funny old album, I saw Madeleine years ago when she was busking in Paris - there was a magic offbeat quality that had slightly sliped away on her albums BUT this shows signs off a getting that spirit back while still showing off that wonderful voice. Love in Vain is a superb version...... The only thing she needs to tighten up on is the the standard of her song writing. It's nice to hear/see a talented young(ish) singer doing it the way they want to. Listen with an open mind and you'll be pleasently surprised
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 2011
Oh dear. By the sound of some of these reviews I might think that Peyroux was on a downward spiral. Nothing like. This CD is intelligent, inventive and has variety. For me, Peyroux has improved with each issue. I can impress my blues-rock friends with 'The Kind You Can't Afford', my sentimental ones with 'Lay Your Sleeping Head'. She creates something new with 'Love In Vain' and 'I Threw It All Away' and her own songs are up to Bare Bones standard. What's more, the production and sound are top quality. 'Don't Pick A Fight With A Poet'. Good advice. One caveat (and I agree with some of the grumps) - it was a mistake to start with 'Martha My Dear'. It won't catch the ears of the uncommitted.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2011
In 2009, Madeleine Peyroux issued "Bare Bones", her first recording of all-original material with producer Larry Klein and a small group of jazz musicians and co-composers.
"Standing on the Rooftop" is her debut recording for Decca with producer Craig Street.
The group of players here is a diverse lot: drummer Charlie Drayton, guitarists Christopher Bruce and Marc Ribot, bassist Me'Shell Ndegeocello; John Kirby, Glenn Patscha, and Patrick Warren alternate on keyboards, percussionist Mauro Refosco, violinist Jenny Scheinman, and Allen Toussaint guests on piano.
The program is richly and elegantly painted with modern production touches even as its songs are rooted in the historical past of classic Americana: pop songs, blues, jazz, and sitting room tunes.
It includes eight originals and four covers, among them a poem by W.H. Auden set to music by Ribot entitled "Lay Your Sleeping Head, My Love". The music is summery and laid-back.
The languid parlor-room reading of "Martha My Dear" by Lennon & McCartney has a deliberate old-timey feel and twins well with "Fickle Dove" (one of two Peyroux tunes written with Scheinman). Robert Johnson's "Love in Vain", with its strange pump organ backdrop and studio echo, indulges the kinds of production tricks Tom Waits might employ in disguising a blues. That said, this song too has a twin of sorts in the sonically similar title track; a clattering rag blues with ambient electronics held in check by Peyroux's elegantly earthy vocal. Ribot's acoustic guitar and Toussaint's upright on the Auden poem give the singer a perfectly loose frame to create a song inside.
The thin, lean, funky blues on "The Kind You Can't Afford" (co-written with former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman) and Bob Dylan's "I Threw It All Away" are both slow shuffles and high points. In the latter, Peyroux's voice shifts the lyric's meaning to where the implied bitterness gives way to bewilderment.
The album's final three cuts, "Meet Me in Rio", "Ophelia", and "The Way of All Things" make fine use of Peyroux's jazz chops; and because of Street's production, make an exact time-space continuum wonderfully imprecise.
As an album, "Standing on the Rooftop" may not be as striking as its predecessor, but perhaps it wasn't meant to be.
It is a seemingly effort that pushes the familiar toward an uncertain future where pop genres cease to need to exist at all. T. Jurek
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 31 August 2011
This got a pretty good write-up in the Guardian, who are not easily impressed. So, being gullible, I bought it. It starts with a cover version of 'Martha my dear', a well-known McCartney vehicle. You wonder why people do cover versions of Beatles songs, as they are so hard to better. Unfortuntely, Madeleine not only fails to add anything to it, but you wonder at one point if she is even going to carry it. Will she reach the high notes in the middle eight? 'Hold your head up you silly girl, see what you've done....' Instead, the second number would have been a much better opener, as it is fairly up-tempo with a lovely sinewous guitar throughout. The disc then opens out into a nice gentle groove of a new take on bluesy popular music. She even does a very eerie version of Robert Johnson's Love in Vain. Throughout, her voice has the vulnerability of Peggy Lee. However, although most of the songs are partly self-penned, she does not sound as if she really takes command of them.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2011
Bravely, if cautiously, stepping out of her comfort zone Madeleine Peyroux's latest album is something of a schizophrenic affair. It works best on those tracks where she dares to be different; less so on the more familiar straight jazz-vocal arrangements, where by and large the songs themselves are not sufficiently noteworthy to jostle for position with better examples from her back catalogue.

But where it's good, it's very good. A dark, sinister and avant-garde reading of Robert Johnson's "Love In Vain" is as effective as it is surprising; we're deep in Robin Holcomb territory here. Similarly, the title track - all stuttering, staccato guitars and a vocal hinting at hidden menace - is enthralling. Further unexpected pleasures arrive in the form of "The Kind You Can't Afford", a stylish collaboration with Bill Wyman, whilst an insistent guitar riff and a fine guitar solo lift "The Things I've Seen Today" out of the ordinary.

Elsewhere, though, there's a sense of déjà vu on a number of tracks; all impeccably performed in Madeleine's highly distinctive style but too many lacking that real killer spark. Fifteen tracks long, the album as a whole might have benefited from jettisoning two or three of these.

There are some really top-notch players on board here, including New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint and Tom Waits' guitar lieutenant Marc Ribot, who add their own recognisable gloss to the proceedings.

But it's the experimental stuff that opens the door to some fascinating future possibilities. At the moment, the artist appears at the crossroads (Robert Johnson would have understood!); to the right, the familiar comfortable and well-trodden jazz vocal path; to the left, a musical Twilight Zone. Which way will she go?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2011
Having listened to all the previous albums was a little disappointed. Lacks bite but still good from this great jazz singer
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Madeleine Peyroux's first two CDs on Rounder with Larry Klein in the producer's chair were masterpieces that perfectly matched Madeleine's beautiful Billy Holiday-like voice with both a great selection of songs and wonderful backing. Sadly I didn't think that 2009's `Bare Bones' worked as well, although I applaud them both for trying something different by dropping the covers in favour of original songs, including collaborations with Walter Becker, Joe Henry, David Batteau and Julian Coryell.

This latest recording features Craig Street as producer (his credits include Norah Jones, k.d. Lang and Cassandra Wilson) and reverts to a similar mixture of covers and original songs as `Half the Perfect World'. I'm afraid that I think it's even worse than `Bare Bones', for me there are hardly any tracks that work - nearly every song seems to have a disconnect between the vocals and the backing. The intro to Dylan's "I threw it all away" sounds great but then the vocals come in and it all just spirals downwards and to put it bluntly I think she murders the Beatles' "Martha, My Dear" and also Robert Johnson's "Love In Vain". I felt the original songs did work better than the covers and if I had to pick a 'favourite' track I'd have to go for "The kind you can't afford". Come back Larry Klein I think Madeleine needs you...
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on 13 May 2013
Not as polished as Careless Love, but rootsier, original compositions (mostly), creative and rawer edged. A nice balance. The instrumentation is flawless throughout. An insight into the creative workings of Peyroux, her lush vocal talents, her inner stresses, strains and reflections. Takes a few listens to appreciate the mastery involved, but once you get hooked....! Enjoy!
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on 9 September 2014
I love Madeleine Peyroux and in my opinion she has an amazing voice. I was disappointed with this album though. I get the impression that she is experimenting with different styles and for me, I found this style a bit dreary compared to her earlier albums. I will probably continue to buy her cd's but I doubt if I will play this one as much as the others.
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on 16 August 2011
I heard her sign on Radio 4 and was fascinated by the calm unpretentious voice that captured the mood of her songs perfectly -- no gimmicks just great singing. She has a dry wit that is seen in the wonderful 'Don't Pick a Fight with a Poet.' For those who don't know her, listen and enjoy a great talent/
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