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Lady Day dream
by Bob Margolis
June 19, 2008 01:00 AM | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
She's not nearly as big a name as Norah Jones - the singer to whom she's sometimes compared - but don't be surprised if Madeleine Peyroux becomes a major blip on your musical sonar. The jazzy, bluesy, 33-year-old chanteuse, who sounds far more like Billie Holiday than Jones, is taking the stage at the Bardavon on Friday, June 27, dipping into a bag that includes hip standards, unique readings of classic fare and more than a handful off her latest album, Half the Perfect World.

In a recent interview, Peyroux - she's now based in Brooklyn, after living many years abroad - said that she enjoys touring the United States more than she once did. "In a way, American audiences are more challenging than European. I'm playing American music back to Americans. They don't generally have the same passion for it, but it's beautiful and because of the social content, there's a potentially deeper understanding."

In addition to two Leonard Cohen/Anjani Thomas songs ("Half a Perfect World" and "Blue Alert"), the album contains covers of songs by Joni Mitchell ("River," a duet sung with k. d. lang); Tom Waits ("Heart of Saturday Night"), Fred Neil ("Everybody's Talkin'"), Charlie Chaplin (yes, that Charlie Chaplin's "Smile") and Serge Gainsbourg ("La Javanaise"). But there are also four songs that Peyroux has co-written, with either Walter Becker (of Steely Dan renown) or Jesse Harris (of Norah Jones acclaim).

The album was produced by Larry Klein, who happens to be Joni Mitchell's ex-husband. I bet Peyroux is loved up north. In addition to several songs by Canadians, there's another Canadian presence, bassist Dave Piltch, playing with the band. It was Piltch who facilitated Peyroux's introduction to k. d. lang.

Peyroux, of course, carries a certain reputation in the music industry. It began after her first album, Dreamland, was released in 1996. Peyroux, just 22, did some touring, then more or less disappeared. She booked appearances, but sometimes never showed. She started work on a second album, but then walked away. There was no follow-up until 2004 (Careless Love) - an eight-year hiatus that gave rise to various speculations: that she was naturally reclusive or that she did not like performing. At one point, her record company actually reported her missing and hired a private detective to find her, though it turned out that she was exactly where she was supposed to be: in New York.

She welcomes in a special guest for the gig in Po-town: Marie Knight. In the music world, the spiritual and the secular dovetail nicely. Sister Knight was a longtime partner to the late gospel/secular singer and guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who in a perfect world would be revered alongside gospel giant Mahalia Jackson, guitar-slinger T-Bone Walker and blues belter Mamie Smith. Marie's newest recording, released in June 2007, marks her first new release in more than 20 years. Titled Let Us Get Together, it includes the gospel songs of Reverend Gary Davis. Larry Campbell (the Dixie Hummingbirds, Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, Elvis Costello) is playing all the stringed instruments.

Tickets are $42 general admission and $37 for Bardavon members, available at the Bardavon box office at 35 Market Street in Poughkeepsie, (845) 473-2072; or via TicketMaster at (845) 454-3388 or www.ticketmaster.com.

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