American jazz songstress Madeleine Peyroux returns to Australia as she brings her Careless Love tour to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in March 2023. Tickets on sale now.
The tour celebrates the reissue of her 2004 best-selling album Careless Love, released last year through Craft Recordings in physical and digital formats and includes the acclaimed, original album, plus a previously unreleased live set, captured in its entirety in 2005 at Spain’s Festival de Jazz de Vitoria-Gasteiz. Both physical editions include recently unearthed photos, captured during Careless Love‘s original release, plus new liner notes from the GRAMMY-Award-winning journalist Ashley Kahn, who recently spoke to Peyroux about the making of the album and her triumphant performance in Spain.
Released eight years after her debut, Careless Love marked a new chapter for the then-30-year-old Peyroux. Born in Athens, GA to bohemian parents, Peyroux spent her teenage years in Paris, where she found herself entranced by the city’s busking musicians. By 15, the precocious singer was performing alongside them in the city’s Latin Quarter and soon dropped out of high school to tour Europe full-time. When she returned to the States in her 20s, Peyroux settled in New York, where she was discovered — and promptly signed — by Atlantic Records’ Yves Beauvais, who co-produced her 1996 debut, Dreamland.
Immediately, Peyroux caught the attention of the music world, drawing comparisons to one of the greatest jazz vocalists in history, Billie Holiday. Yet, amid a whirlwind of buzz and critical acclaim, the young artist withdrew from the spotlight.
In addition to undergoing vocal cord surgery, the young artist entered a period of exploration — one in which she literally and figuratively found her voice. She set out across America to reconnect with her home country, but she also spent a lot of that time in self-reflection. “I put a lot of thought into what my career means,” Peyroux recalls, “what making a record and the follow-up tour represents — the kind of music I wanted to do and the amount of work that is involved.”
By 2004, she was ready to return to the studio. Peyroux signed a contract with Rounder Records and was introduced to Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Shawn Colvin), a legendary producer with whom she would form a long-lasting creative partnership. Klein’s sonically diverse background would also prove to be the perfect match for the singer-songwriter.
While Peyroux was introduced as a jazz artist, her influences spanned far beyond one genre — and the compositions selected for Careless Love showcased this versatility. From inspired interpretations of songs by Elliot Smith (‘Between the Bars’), Leonard Cohen (‘Dance Me to the End of Love’), and Hank Williams (‘Weary Blues’), to more traditional fare made famous by Bessie Smith (‘Don’t Cry Baby’), Billie Holiday (‘No More,’ ‘I’ll Look Around’), and Josephine Baker (‘J’ ai Deux Amours’), Careless Love offered something for every music fan.
In the studio, Peyroux was joined by a talented line-up of session musicians, including guitarist Dean Parks, keyboardist Larry Goldings, bassist David Piltch, trumpeter Lee Thornburg, and drummers Jay Bellerose and Scott Amendola. The laid-back Los Angeles sessions afforded the artist plenty of time to experiment and improvise with her fellow musicians.
The album also included one original song, co-written by Jesse Harris (Norah Jones, Melody Gardot), ‘Don’t Wait Too Long.’ The lilting, jazz-infused tune, in which Peyroux croons “If you think that time will change your ways/ Don’t wait too long” could have certainly served as a personal anthem. It also became her signature hit. Released as a single, the song pushed Peyroux into the mainstream — topping the Jazz charts and appearing in soundtracks, TV shows, and national commercials.
Careless Love was a commercial and critical success as well, cementing Peyroux’s return to the industry. In the US, the album sold more than 500,000 copies in its first year — hitting No.2 on Billboard’s Jazz chart and, eventually, earning a platinum certification. Rivaling the sales of a pop record, the album was also a bestseller abroad, landing in the Top Ten in the UK, and earning Gold and Platinum certifications in Europe, South America, and China.
All About Jazz hailed Careless Love as “a moody, haunting masterpiece” and “a whale of a record. Peyroux’s voice is amazing — grainy, intimate, and unaffected.” No Depression noted that “a more self-defined Peyroux sound emerges — smooth, circling around midrange notes, energized, and built on her own smart reading of the lyric, not anyone else’s patterns.” The Guardian praised its “classily produced and coolly graceful set,” as well as its “intelligent choice of terrific songs.”
For the next year, Peyroux spent much of her time on the road in support of Careless Love, recording the majority of her shows from the soundboard. Among these dates is a standout set from Spain’s Vitoria-Gasteiz Jazz Festival, captured by Basque Public Radio on July 15, 2005. “You can hear how much fun we’re having, and the people sound really happy,” Peyroux reflects in the liner notes. “I think I was pretty nervous, playing in such a prestigious festival in one of these daunting, historic-looking places that was so large. At the time, a venue holding 2000 was a lot for me.”
In addition to material from Careless Love, the set also includes a rousing performance of ‘Walkin’ After Midnight,’ originally made famous by Patsy Cline and featured on Dreamland, plus a fantastic rendition of the Burton Lane / Frank Loesser pop standard, ‘I Hear Music.’
Originally issued via Rounder Records in 2004, the Careless Love reissue concept was initially planned as part of a special series commemorating the legendary roots label’s 50th anniversary in 2020. However, the release timeline pushed back due to Covid-19 related production delays, as well as working around the opportunity to fully celebrate the record with the Careless Love Forever World Tour. Says label producer Scott Billington, “a reissue of Careless Love seemed like it was long overdue. We approached Madeleine and her manager about the concept, and they brought up the exciting idea of a concurrent tour. Since there were no alternate takes or unissued songs from the original sessions, we began searching for a contemporaneous concert recording, and were lucky to finally find her 2005 set from the Vitoria Gasteiz Jazz Festival in Spain.We included everything from the set, presented in the same order as the performance. We were also able to find the original photo session for the album, by the late photographer Andrew MacNaughtan, to help create a special package.”
19 years later, Peyroux continues to record, perform, and challenge the confines of jazz through such albums as Half the Perfect World (2006), Standing on the Rooftop (2011), and The Blue Room (2013). In 2014, she released a career retrospective, Keep Me in Your Heart for a While: Best of Madeleine Peyroux, while in 2016, she released her eighth studio album and latest collaboration with Larry Klein, Anthem.