Madeleine Peyroux is the best kind of one-trick pony: she sounds uncannily like Billie Holiday, a marvelous feat if you can pull it off. On Careless Love—the long-awaited follow-up to her 1996 debut, Dreamland—she brings her wide-reaching sensibilities and dazzling Lady Day voice to a dozen old and new songs.
Careless Love is more eclectic and less overtly jazz-focused than her debut, featuring classic songs from W.C. Handy and Hank Williams, in addition to more contemporary fare from Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Elliott Smith. It’s all a bit too studied and imitative to be considered blues-and-jazz singing of the first rank. But it’s close. Her mastery of Holiday’s languorous phrasing is impressive, delivered in a voice at once sultry and soulful. If she can learn to trust her instincts, it’s certain this lady’s day will come, no further comparisons required.