2009: 15 of the Best. #3…

December 16, 2009

#3 – Madeleine Peyroux – You Can’t Do Me

From: Bare Bones
Released: March 10, 2009
Label: Rounder/Universal
Buy it: Here.

I’ve noticed that one of the first complaints anyone ever has about an album they don’t like is “It sounds like the last one.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard or read that about a Madeleine Peyroux album, despite the fact that Bare Bones sounds a lot like Half the Perfect World, which, in itself, sounded a lot like Careless Love. From this, we can either deduce that that criticism is the epitome of lazy dismissal, or — and this is probably the truth — if you’re really f*cking good at what you do, then there’s no godly reason to change things up. It’s been a few years now since Madeleine decided to up and disappear to France for awhile, but she’s still getting a lot of coolness credo from everyone who listens, despite the fact that her music seems tailor-made for Starbucks compilations (and other artists catch a lot of crap for doing this style). She’s an enigma, to be sure, but a damn enjoyable one at that. “You Can’t Do Me” is the runaway favorite on Bare Bones — co-written with Steely Dan axe/bass-man Walter Becker, and dripping with all his trademark smartassedness. The song contains 27 similes, all of which sound awesome and are unbelievably clever. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite — there’s something very sexy about Peyroux singing “screwed like a high school cheerleader,” something very funny about Peyroux singing, “blanked like a last place also-ran,” something very sweet about Peyroux singing “cartooned like a Charlie Brown Christmas card,” and something very cool about Peyroux singing “juked like a payola chart-topper.” And that’s not even mentioning the tips of the hat to Alabama ‘baccy-wads, Arkansas griddlecakes, Mississippi sharecroppers, milk money bullywhips, teenage downloaders, bulls in china shops, little league ball swatters and bottled-up border crossers. I have don’t even have to insert the word “arguably” here — this is the greatest use of similes ever in popular music.


  1. Oh, thank you – she’s one of my favorite recent finds.

    P.S. Am shouting you out with a link over at AEAE.

  2. Madeleine’s fabulous. If you ever get the chance to catch her live, don’t miss out. And thanks, as always, for the shout-outs.

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