I don't remember what I was doing the first time I heard Madeleine Peyroux, but I remember what I was thinking: wasn't Billie Holiday dead before Leonard Cohen started writing songs? Okay, so maybe there was a period of overlap. But since then, and many times over, the astonishing similarity between young, whitey-white Peyroux and the long-gone First Lady of the Blues has been the lead comment when post-track chat commences.
Singers like Peyroux (and k.d. lang and Megan Mullally and even young Norah Jones, now that I think of it) make me happy because they combine great pipes with great taste and Actual Life Experience that Results In A Point of View. As L.A. Jan and I were lamenting just yesterday (we're both hooked on "Idol" now), Kelly Clarkson has an astonishing instrument, but to what end? Fomenting preteen unrest with pop claptrap? And don't get me started on the Queens of Oversing: Celine, Mariah and just about every contemporary country singer you can name. You couldn't pay me to listen to one of those hideous power ballads and it's not because I'm rolling in dough these days.
Careless Love isn't a perfect album, I get the feeling that sometimes Peyroux and her producer were coasting a little on the charm of her voice, but it's damned close. And a trio of tracks alone are worth the price of admission: the so-sad, slow and sweet "I'll Look Around"; the sexy, playful "Don't Wait Too Long"; and my current obsession, "Dance Me To The End Of Love." I've tried and tried to love Leonard Cohen but I just can't deal unless one of the ladies, Jennifer Warnes, k.d., Madeleine, is doing the heavy lifting. Fortunately, the list of Cohen covers is long and mighty, but we can always use more truly fabu artists like Peyroux tackling the canon.