Is that legal? I recall thinking.
Madeleine Peyroux is still doing it. Standing on the Rooftop [read my full review on PopMatters HERE] is the singer's sixth recording, and it's a mess. It was produced by Craig Street, who did wonderful things for Cassandra Wilson when she started with Blue Note, and who gives things his signature moody touch. Songs were co-written with Bill Wyman and Jenny Sheinman (the jazz violinist). Alan Toussaint and M'shell N'degeocello play. There are covers of the Beatles, Robert Johnson, and Dylan. But the album wastes all this with an unfortunate aimlessness.
It is hardly original to note that Peyroux’s singing is eerily—queerly—reminiscent of Billie Holiday. But on her sixth record over 15 years, this persistent truth can’t be ignored. Peyroux applies an oddly “different” approach to many songs here, but she does it with a recycled sound that is, of course, a faded Xerox of the original. So, when Standing on the Rooftop starts out with “Martha, My Dear”, you’re glad that it does not sound like The Beatles—but were you expecting to hear “silly girl” come out of the throat of Lady Day? And it sounds like a kind of odd Holiday: Billie on Ambien, falling asleep in the middle of “when you find yourself in the thick of it”. It is intimate singing, I suppose, but I think it’s more accurate to call it weak and faltering.
What could be variety comes off as grab-bag variation. “Meet Me in Rio” tosses in a bit of pseudo-bossa-nova strutting, while “Standing on the Rooftop” has a pulsing indie-rock plainness. Jazz, folk, country, a touch of funk: all wrapped up in that Billie Holiday imitation. It seems bewildering rather than variegated, aimless rather than genre-bending.
Madeleine Peyroux is an artist literally without her own voice. Borrowing from one source heavily and dabblingly from myriad sources, her Standing on the Rooftop is the sound of nothing so much as hip confusion