Gig review: Madeleine Peyroux, Edinburgh

“It’s really fun to do happy songs sometimes,” declared Madeleine Peyroux breezily after her light, jazz-toned cover of Ella Fitzgerald’s I Hear Music had wound itself down, “usually just one or two.” She wasn’t entirely doing herself justice, for despite the often sparse and breathy tone to her music, there was much to smile about here.

Madeleine Peyroux: A charming and often gregarious host
Madeleine Peyroux: A charming and often gregarious host

Madeleine Peyroux - Usher Hall, Edinburgh

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The 39-year-old native of Athens, Georgia, was a charming and often gregarious host.

Most satisfyingly, her appeal is based on a rich maturity, both in her voice and in the suggestion that she’s someone who’s lived a life and is well placed to interpret the classics with skill and confidence.

This year’s sixth studio album, The Blue Room, largely comprises versions of other people’s songs, as did this show.

Peyroux covered the Everly Brothers and Ray Charles, and her version of Don Gibson’s I Can’t Stop Loving You brought a resonantly reflective country twang to bear.

Of Leonard Cohen she said “I really do believe that, like Robert Burns, he’s written some of the best lyrics,” and her by-now standard reinterpretation of Cohen’s Dance Me to the End of Love was joined by a new take on Bird On a Wire.

Warren Zevon’s Desperadoes Under the Eaves closed the main show, a drinking song dedicated to the amount she and her band (including grand pianist, double bassist and string quartet) had put away during the show, she joked.

It rounded off 90 minutes of expertly balanced tightrope walking between classic styles.