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Originally published March 5, 2013 at 9:37 AM | Page modified March 5, 2013 at 9:39 AM

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Review: Madeleine Peyroux tackles Ray Charles

Madeleine Peyroux, "The Blue Room" (Decca/Universal)

Associated Press

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Madeleine Peyroux, "The Blue Room" (Decca/Universal)

After performing mostly original songs on her last two albums, Madeleine Peyroux returns as a masterful interpreter of classic songs. Her long-time producer Larry Klein felt Peyroux, whose music blends jazz, blues, country and pop, would be well suited to reimagine Ray Charles' landmark "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music" that broke down musical and racial barriers.

Half the 10 tunes - including "Born To Lose," "You Don't Know Me" and "I Can't Stop Loving You" - are from Charles' two 1962 albums. But Peyroux's rich tone, emotional depth and expressive story-telling - enhanced by Vince Mendoza's refined string arrangements and the sensitive accompaniment of keyboardist Larry Goldings and guitarist Dean Parks - seem more evocative of Patsy Cline's crossover country pop recordings from the same era.

Other songs fit the relaxed, introspective mood - particularly her poignant version of Leonard Cohen's "Bird On the Wire" and her fresh take on "Changing All Those Changes" with its shuffling jazzy beat that reinvents the obscure Buddy Holly tune.

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