Half the Perfect World

( 7 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Steve Klinge
Considering that Madeleine Peyroux took eight years between her debut Dreamland and its successor, 2004's breakthrough Careless Love, Half the Perfect World qualifies as a speedy follow-up. But that's the only thing speedy about it: Peyroux is a master of the languid, slow-and-easy ballad, of singing at just the right point behind the beat -- even if that point is unexpectedly far, as on her introspective version of "Everybody's Talkin'." Although it reconvenes much of the crew behind her last album, Half the Perfect World is not simply More Careless Love. Instead of anchoring the album in the past aside from the Johnny Mercer standard "Summer Wind" and Charlie ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Steve Klinge
Considering that Madeleine Peyroux took eight years between her debut Dreamland and its successor, 2004's breakthrough Careless Love, Half the Perfect World qualifies as a speedy follow-up. But that's the only thing speedy about it: Peyroux is a master of the languid, slow-and-easy ballad, of singing at just the right point behind the beat -- even if that point is unexpectedly far, as on her introspective version of "Everybody's Talkin'." Although it reconvenes much of the crew behind her last album, Half the Perfect World is not simply More Careless Love. Instead of anchoring the album in the past aside from the Johnny Mercer standard "Summer Wind" and Charlie Chaplin's bittersweet classic "Smile", Peyroux chooses songs from her contemporaries. She acknowledges her French roots with Serge Gainsbourg's "La Javanaise," returns to Leonard Cohen for two songs, covers Tom Waits's classic "Looking For The Heart of Saturday Night," and duets seamlessly with k. d. lang on Joni Mitchell's "River." Bigger surprises come from the four songs Peyroux herself had a hand in writing. Peyroux is a superb songwriter -- the wonderful "Don't Wait Too Long" was her lone contribution to Careless Love -- and her songs, such as the breezy "A Little Bit" and the gently swinging "I'm All Right" written with Steely Dan's Walter Becker and producer Larry Klein, are the most joyful tracks on this seductive album. Peyroux makes only one misstep on Half the Perfect World: She sells herself short by 50 percent with the title.
All Music Guide - Marisa Brown
Madeleine Peyroux took significantly less time than the eight years between her debut and its follow-up to release her third album, Half the Perfect World, which finds a more mature -- or at least less vulnerable -- singer, one who chooses to express herself with nuance rather than overtness. Often, like in the opening "I'm All Right" -- one of four original songs -- this aversion to unconcealed emotion works well, playing off the swelling Hammond, the swinging rhythm of the acoustic guitar (contrasting nicely with the hook of "It's all right, I've been lonely before"), and the simple drums. But at other times, like in "A Little Bit" -- which is bluesy and more upbeat and practically screams for an outburst, a growl, something -- her hesitancy instead almost comes across as a flaw, as a fear of fully expressing herself. On "Blue Alert," where Anjani's voice was full and seductive, rife with curling smoke rings and lipstick-stained wineglasses, Peyroux seems desolate and flat and she simplifies the situation too much, though she does fare much better on the other Anjani/Leonard Cohen piece and title track of the album. Here, she changes its perspective, mixing the characters together and sounding beautifully fragile, yet at the same time strong and certain, as she sings about her love. The same can be said for her version of the Johnny Mercer-penned "The Summer Wind," which uses a cleaner, less dramatic arrangement to convey the feeling that, though she's thinking about past events with some nostalgia, she's also able to accept the outcome and move forward with her life. This kind of resignation hangs heavy throughout the entire album, making every song she covers seem sadder than the original. Joni Mitchell's "River," sung with k.d. lang, is slow and heart-wrenching (lang's voice, especially, brings a sweet melancholy to it), and Peyroux's version of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" has a kind of dejected resoluteness that makes you wonder if she can even follow the advice she's singing. This subtlety is two-fold, however. It's so prevalent in the music that it's hard to tell if it's hinting at greater depth or if it's really a protective blanket, an affected timidity to prevent exposure. The delicateness of Half the Perfect World is certainly nice, but Peyroux seems to be using it as a device to hide behind instead of an actual expression of feeling, and so while the album is an overall success, it still leaves questions lingering behind the softly clicking hi-hat, the wandering bass, of when the singer's really going to show herself completely.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/12/2006
  • Label: Rounder / Umgd
  • UPC: 011661325227
  • Catalog Number: 613252
  • Sales rank: 5,369

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 I'm All Right (3:27)
  2. 2 The Summer Wind (3:55)
  3. 3 Blue Alert (4:10)
  4. 4 Everybody's Talkin' (5:10)
  5. 5 River (5:19)
  6. 6 A Little Bit (4:02)
  7. 7 Once in a While (4:00)
  8. 8 (Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night (3:27)
  9. 9 Half the Perfect World (4:21)
  10. 10 La Javanaise (4:11)
  11. 11 California Rain (2:57)
  12. 12 Smile (3:57)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Madeleine Peyroux Primary Artist, Guitar, Vocals
Gary Foster Alto Saxophone
Larry Goldings Celeste, Wurlitzer, Soloist
Till Brönner Trumpet
Larry Klein Wurlitzer
k.d. lang Vocals
Greg Leisz Pedal Steel Guitar
Dean Parks Guitar, Ukulele, Soloist
David Piltch Bass
Scott Amendola Drums
Jay Bellerose Cymbals, Drums
Sam D. Bass Cello
Carla Kihlstedt Violin
Sam Yahel Piano, Hammond Organ, Wurlitzer
Graeme Jennings Violin
Charith Premawardhana Viola
Technical Credits
Leonard Cohen Composer
Fred Neil Composer
Joni Mitchell Composer
Tom Waits Composer
Serge Gainsbourg Composer
Charlie Chaplin Composer
Bernie Grundman Mastering
Larry Klein Producer
Henry Mayer Composer
Johnny Mercer Composer
Anjani Composer
Geoff Parsons Composer
Madeleine Peyroux Composer
Helix Hadar Engineer
Hans Bradtke Composer
Mark Orton String Arrangements
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(5)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

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2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    "Perfect World" indeed

    A beautiful young woman introduced me to Madeleine Peyroux's CARELESS LOVE a few years ago. I fell immediately in love. Earlier this year I saw Madeleine in concert: a fairly simple, stripped down affair with a band that included a trumpet player, bass, keyboardist/pianist, and drums. But it was Peyroux's quiet, soothing vocals that truly was the instrument of the evening. She debuted some tracks off HALF THE PERFECT WORLD,and they sounded beautiful. The CD itself is a trip to a beautiful place: perhaps a coffeehouse in Paris, or a dimly lit restaurant. Peyroux once again offers up lush, tranquil jazz standards and originals in perfected fashion among the standouts is the lovely "River" with k.d. Lang. I would highly recommend this CD for a cool autumn evening under the covers, or a romantic night by the fire. Simply stated, it doesn't get much better than this.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Half the Perfect CD

    I find her voice to be both enchanting and limited. If you really enjoy her voice, this could easily be a four star release. When she is in her element, vocally speaking, she has a fabulous instrument. I could listen to her sing the phone book. However, for my taste she has chosen a limited musical landscape in which to play. I much prefer her voice on songs that suit her style and limited range. "Dont Wait Too Long", a popular song from her last cd, suits her very well. It exhibits her voice and her stylist tendencies nicely indeed. Terrific stuff. On her new cd, many of the songs do not permit such an exhibit. I found her stylistic decisions on many of the songs to be uneven compromises between her vocal strengths and a desire to invigorate these sometimes familiar tunes. I once supposed her major stylistic crisis would be deciding whether to sing like Billie Holiday all of the time, now I see it is whether she can sing a broad range of songs at the same high level she achieves when at her best. A few of the song choices are puzzling: Joni Mitchell's "River" is a dark and narrowly personal lament by that songwriter, and has a plodding character that few singers can--or would choose to--inhabit artistically. Hmmm. Perhaps this is Half the Perfect CD. Rethink the arrangement of a few songs--and the inclusion of a couple--and her sweet voice and musicality could make this a fine release.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Halk the Perfect World by Madeleine Peyroux

    This CD was a much appreciated gift to a music lover who has her other CD's.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    This is restaurant music

    Seriously, I can't listen to this without thinking about the soup du jour. It's nice enough, totally inoffensive, doesn't take any chances... I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's bland but it's perfect if you have a lot of dinner parties. Theodore Korolchuk

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Another Masterpiece

    Like her previous two CDs this CD speaks from heart to heart and it touches your mind, body and soul. I listen to her three CDs very often and the songs and music make my mind very relaxed. This CD is indeed a masterpiece. Congratulations Madeleine.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews