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Business as usual
on 30 March 2009
Aside from the fact that, for the first time, all the songs have been written or co-written by Madeleine herself it's pretty much business as usual here. No surprises or departures in style, just that familiar silky, fragile and delicious jazz voice wrapping itself around eleven new tunes co-written mostly with producer Larry Klein and also the likes of Steely Dan's Walter Becker.
Like a lazy flowing river on a still summer day the album drifts from beginning to end with nary a change of pace - the jaunty Becker/Klein collaboration "You Can't Do Me" as up-tempo as things get, Becker continuing his personal infatuation with the reggae-tinged arrangements that characterised his recent solo album. To his credit he clearly didn't keep his best songs for himself, the track bettering anything to be found on "Circus Money" (the same is true of his other contribution, the album's title track). To be honest, Peyroux never sounds entirely convincing delivering some brilliantly Dan-esque lyrics such as "Blewed like a Mississippi sharecropper, screwed like a high school cheerleader, tattooed like a popeyed sailorman - gone, gone, gone" but it's a small quibble. Where's Donald Fagen when you need him?
Only the plodding "Damn the Circumstances" fails to fully engage the senses, whilst Madeleine's own "I Must Be Saved" reveals a songwriting talent that bodes well for future projects. On top of that, "River of Tears" sounds like the musical lovechild of Klein and his former missus, Joni Mitchell. Praise indeed.
Beautiful though it undoubtedly is, the overall effect across eleven tracks leans dangerously towards the soporific. Still, for those in the know it's likely to be THE essential dinner party soundtrack for the forseeable future.