Madeleine Peyroux

SXSW Live Shots

SXSW Live Shots
Photo By Todd V. Wolfson

Madeleine Peyroux

Caribbean Lights, Thursday, March 18 Bitchface. You may be familiar with the phenomenon that occurs primarily in the female of our species and can best be described as the expression worn when one smells something putrid or is simply very pissed off. It also happens to be the expression worn by Madeleine Peyroux for the greater part of her Thursday night showcase. Don't misunderstand, she's probably a very nice young lady, but you'd probably have bitchface, too, if you played your heart out to a roomful of chatty Cathies intent on socializing rather than experiencing what they ostensibly came for, which is the music. It must be especially frustrating for Peyroux, who has spent the past six-plus years in obscurity after the 1996 release of her debut, Dreamland, went absolutely nowhere. More's the pity, as Peyroux employed her mellow, whiskey-sweet voice in the service of jazz standards and originals, channeling Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf in her most dazzling moments. Indeed, the pinnacle of the 30-minute showcase was "J'ai Deux Amours," the notes ringing out crisp and clear among the chitchat. Tony Wilson provided electrified guitar complement to Peyroux's acoustic strumming; his solos were consistently brilliant. The evening's most poignant moment came with a jazzified version of Elliott Smith's wistful, heartbreaking "Between the Bars" from Either/Or. The chanteuse's velvety interpretation was a respectful and tender homage that in less careful hands would've been a disaster. Peyroux, who was recently signed to Rounder Records after laboring in obscurity for so long, proved herself quite the pro despite her visible displeasure with the rude audience and the occasional shushing of the crowd in between songs. In a perfect world, this young woman would've beaten Norah Jones to the punch ages ago. It's embarrassing that even now the industry is indifferent.

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