IT AIN’T BROKE: Madeleine Peyroux sticks with a good thing on Half the Perfect World.
Peyroux and producer Larry Klein stick with the template from 2004’s Careless Love (Rounder): a retro soundscape of acoustic guitars and bass, brushes playing jazz-shuffle rhythms, vintage keyboards, and Peyroux’s lazy Billie Holiday croon. The X factor is song selection, which on Careless Love leaned toward well-chosen covers. This time the standout is Leonard Cohen’s “Red Alert” (the title tune is his too), but we also get a handful of Peyroux originals written with Klein and Norah Jones songwriter Jesse Harris that hold their own. The sardonic opener, “I’m All Right,” is a perfect match for Cohen and Tom Waits (“Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night”), with lines like “I asked the boy for a few kind words/He gave me a novel instead.” For some, the Sinatra-associated “The Summer Wind” and Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’ ” may be too worn even for Peyroux’s talents. But, hey, she’s got a Serge Gainsbourg waltz sung in French (“La Javanaise”), a duet with k.d. lang on Joni Mitchell’s alienated-Xmas classic “River,” and a beautifully deployed little string section on the original “Once in a While” that makes it sound as old as Edith Piaf. The template holds.
Madeleine Peyroux | Berklee Performance Center, 136 Mass Ave, Boston | November 1 | 8:30 pm | 617.747.2261