• Rocky Schenck
  • Madeleine Peyroux

I’ve often disparaged what I call producer’s records, where someone other than the artist is the one making key creative decisions (or even dreaming up the concept for a concept album). Few recent releases fit this description better than The Blue Room (Decca), the latest from genre-averse singer Madeleine Peyroux. In his liner notes, Michael Cuscuna describes the impact that the classic 1962 Ray Charles album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music had on producer Larry Klein when he first encountered it as a 12-year-old in the late 60s. He frequently revisited the album often over the next four decades until finally realizing it would be the perfect recording project for Peyroux: “She comes from the same places—jazz, country and blues.” (Never mind that tons of artists active in 2013 also come from those same places.) Indeed, Peyroux has proved successful at tackling a wide variety of material, but her delicate, refined voice has little in common with Charles’s.