Having proven several times over that she’s among the premier vocal jazz singers on the planet with Half the Perfect World and Careless Love—both available as limited-edition 180-gram LPs from Mobile Fidelity—Madeleine Peyroux makes her mark as a songwriter on the exquisite Bare Bones, her first album of originals. A thematic record that begins with wariness, moves to loss, builds to acceptance, and finishes with hope, the critically acclaimed set is Peyroux’s most soul-baring effort.
The record’s title says it all. Deeply personal and eminently mature, the chanteuse strips everything down, from her emotional guard to the arrangements. Peyroux penned many of the songs with longtime producer Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell), and also co-wrote the standout “You Can’t Do Me” with Steely Dan legend Walter Becker. As expected, a tart wittiness defines the lyrics, demonstrating Peyroux’s continual growth as an artist. Becker's contributions also spice the title track, while noted tunesmiths Joe Henry and Julian Coryell assist on other songs. As usual, the singer enjoys the sparse, elegant backing of a small group of first-rate musicians. Peyroux’s alto vocals shine.
"The empress of the jazzy, languid groove does what she has done on her two bestsellers (and her half-forgotten 1996 debut); purr intimately about life and the iniquities of love over retro backings of brushed drums and polite piano that evoke Billie Holiday."
–Neil Spencer, The Observer, March 2009
Sonically, Bare Bones continues Peyroux’s tradition of making some of the best-sounding albums around. Her tunes—direct, emotional, beautiful, detailed—benefit from production that emphasizes her strengths and puts a spotlight on the songs, not on any unnecessary tricks or embellishments. This is strictly about the music, its emotional effects on the listener, and the universal healing power of feelings associated with lost love and recovery.
"It’s hard to imagine a candlelit cocktail bar that wouldn’t benefit from playing Madeleine Peyroux’s fourth album, Bare Bones. The ear loves to catch on the inflections of her supple alto, the clear picking on her acoustic guitar, the pacing as slow as a hand-stitched dress." –Margaret Wappler, Los Angeles Times, March 2009
Mastered from the original master tapes, Mobile Fidelity’s 180-gram 2-LP set enhances the experiences of hearing Peyroux’s languorous gems. Transparent, airy, three dimensional, fully textured, and featuring extended response from the acoustic bass and guitars, this analog pressing puts you in the middle of a coffeehouse, with Peyroux and her small ensemble seated a few feet in front of you. It’s that good.
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