Anyone listening to Starbucks Hear Music when it debuted on XM in 2004 would likely recall featured artist Madeleine Peyroux, the Athens, GA, born/Paris-raised singer/songwriter. Though the station is long gone and Peyroux has suffered a lengthy airplay absence, she’s back with a new label (Rounder), album and national tour.
We caught her in a simple trio format this week, accompanied by New-York-based guitarist Jon Herington and bassist Barack Mori. She opened her Solana Beach Belly-Up set claiming to perform only three types of songs: love, blues, and drinking. While mostly a true statement, she is so much more than that.
Although not typically a fan of her genre, I found myself captivated by her sly sense of humor and distinctive, smoky voice, which finds a home in French and Portuguese, as well as her native tongue. In a room accustomed to a cacophony of audacious rock, rap, and blues, Peyroux made the venue her own with a repertoire that spans jazz, blues, standards, tastefully rearranged covers of artists like Warren Zevon and Leonard Cohen, and her own well-scribed compositions.
She’s also an accomplished player, as are her fellow musicians. Herington—long associated with Steely Dan—delivers sweet, melodic bouquets that linger on air, probing ear, heart, and head. Mori, whose bass thumps with rhythmic authority, keeps the beat like a nerdy, 1950s hep-cat until moving to the forefront, aping his instrument in a lengthy vocal scat. Herington and Mori, each composers in their own right, also lend their voices in harmony with Peyroux.
She’s touring the nation in support of her 27-song greatest hits album, Keep Me in Your Heart for Awhile.