The album is both an extension of 2004’s Careless Love and 2006’s Half the Perfect World and a bold step into previously unexplored terrain. Produced, like its two predecessors, by Larry Klein, this fluid and enthralling new work, is Peyroux’s most personal yet. Hardly surprising considering she had a hand in writing each of the 11 songs, marking the fulfilment of a lifelong dream.

Madeleine Peyroux

Madeleine Peyroux

Each of the songs is like a gem, revealing its facets one by one as it turns in the mind of the listener. ‘Instead,’ co-written with her friend Julian Coryell, begins the album on a marvellously life-affirming note: “Instead of feelin’ bad, be glad you’ve got somewhere to go.” The ravishing “River of Tears” (a collaboration with Klein) and the noir road movie “Love and Treachery” (with Joe Henry and Klein) evoke Leonard Cohen in their crystalline precision and sustained, gripping tension.

The image-rich “You Can’t Do Me” turns on a strutting groove redolent of vintage Steely Dan, whose Walter Becker co-wrote it. A sort of post-modern madrigal, “Our Lady of Pigalle,” written with David Batteau and Klein, “is about a woman who is walking the streets late at night, being propositioned.” In the self-penned ‘I Must Be Saved’ Peyroux describes “the effort not to lose something, only to later realize you’re gonna lose it anyway: if I get lost in your mind, in your thoughts, then I must be saved.”

Perhaps the biggest change here is that every now and then the clouds break, offering a glimpse of a newfound, and hard-earned, light heartedness—not something one would associate with this deep, deadly serious artist, whose previous outings have been steeped in melancholy.

Peyroux got the song title as well as the overarching theme of the album from When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Difficult Times, a book by Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, which a friend had suggested she read. “Can’t we just return to the bare bones?,” Chodron writes in one key passage. Chodron’s message connected with Peyroux on a deep level.

UK tour dates:

26th April Brighton Dome

27th April Barbican, London

29th April Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

1st May Symphony Hall, Birmingham

2nd May Cheltenham Jazz Festival (Everyman Theatre)

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