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With her signature honeyed voice and a bold fusion of jazz, folk, and chamber pop, Madeleine Peyroux’s tenth album is a deeply personal and politically charged masterpiece that marks a pinnacle of her acclaimed career.

"Let's walk, let's roll," sings Madeleine Peyroux on the buoyant title track of her remarkable tenth album, Let’s Walk. This album marks a pinnacle in the acclaimed singer-songwriter’s career, showcasing her most confident and bold work to date. Featuring her signature honeyed voice that propelled her from the streets of Paris to grand concert halls, these ten deeply personal tracks, co-written by the versatile Peyroux, blend jazz, folk, and chamber pop. Themes range from the confessional to the political, from whimsical to yearning, and Peyroux's soulful delivery imbues each note with profound grace and gravitas.

Let’s Walk has been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait. After her 2018 album Anthem, the global pandemic's enforced isolation made live gatherings impossible. Yet, from a creative perspective, COVID provided a silver lining for Peyroux. She collaborated with longtime partner, multi-instrumentalist Jon Herington (Steely Dan, Lucy Kaplansky), reflecting on the transformative times and writing in what Peyroux describes as “a shadow of reckoning.” Multi-Emmy-and-Grammy-winning producer Elliott Scheiner (Fleetwood Mac, Eagles) insisted on no covers for this album, recognizing the opportunity to highlight Peyroux’s sharp, often topical lyrics, paired with Herington’s melodic and arrangement skills.

The album's opening track, “Find True Love,” was inspired during the George Floyd murder trial. Like “Let’s Walk,” it’s a compelling invitation to embark on a journey, with the first stop in New Orleans. “I was searching for solace in the American landscape,” Peyroux reflects. “Imagining the first step towards healing, if there could be a future worth living for.” Each verse ends with a poignant Cornel West quote: “[One must] learn how to die.” Herington’s rhythmic finger-picked acoustic guitar, combined with Andy Ezrin’s shimmering keys, drives Peyroux’s message of steadfast hope amid growing darkness. “The ideas in this song let me imagine a place where I can become a better me,” Peyroux shares.

The title track, “Let’s Walk,” astonishingly came to Peyroux in a dream, complete with words, rhythm, and form - a rare occurrence for her. “The lyric refers to mass mobilization of marchers for civil rights around the world,” Peyroux explains. “A voluntarily unified action supporting a humanitarian ideology.” Herington enriched the track with gospel elements, organ, and an infectious beat, enlisting harmonies from Grammy-winner Catherine Russell (David Bowie, Rosanne Cash), and vocalists Cindy Mizelle (Bruce Springsteen) and Keith Fluitt (Patti LaBelle, Michael Jackson). Their spirited call-and-response with Peyroux’s warm lead elevates tracks like “Please Come On Inside” and “Blues for Heaven” to emotional revivals.

Meanwhile, “How I Wish” responds to the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery in 2020. This somber, minor-key waltz reflects Peyroux’s anguish and acknowledgment of her privilege. “2020 was the year I woke up,” she admits. Immersed in the works of Cornel West, Peyroux was struck by his description of Black musicians as “Love Warriors,” who responded to oppression with transformative music - artists like Nina Simone, Louis Armstrong, and Marian Anderson. “These are my teachers and my heroes,” Peyroux says. “African American music has been the one constant, true path in my life.”

One of her mentors was Dan William Fitzgerald, also known as “Showman Dan,” for whom Peyroux penned a lively tribute after his death in 2017. As the leader of the Lost Wandering Blues and Jazz Band, Fitzgerald took a young Peyroux under his wing, performing across Europe. “On the street, in the underground, the public square, jazz clubs, restaurants, and the private homes of dukes and duchesses,” she reminisces. Like many Black artists before him, Fitzgerald found more artistic freedom in France than in his homeland, imparting his love of street theater to Peyroux, who had moved to Paris with her mother at age 12.

In Paris, Peyroux observed the tradition of affluent parents gifting their young adult children with apartments. In the satirical “Et Puis” (“And Then”), Peyroux, fluent in French, takes on the role of such a privileged young adult, simultaneously ignorant of their privilege and aware of its injustice.

“Nothing Personal” bravely addresses sexual assault - both her own experiences and those of others - while suggesting alternatives to incarceration. “It’s a ridiculous waste of time,” she asserts, advocating for perpetrators to fully understand the consequences of their actions and participate in recovery in ways welcomed by the victims. Herington’s haunting piano and acoustic guitar recall the intensity of Plastic Ono Band, with Peyroux’s raw yet resolved vocals intimate and unembellished.

Peyroux shifts to a playful tone with the Caribbean-flavored “Me and the Mosquito,” and the rapid-fire spoken-word closer, “Take Care.” Inspired by Hank Williams’ classic “Fly Trouble,” the former offers a uniquely humanist take on the nuisance of a mosquito disrupting sleep. For the latter, Peyroux channels the spoken-word brilliance of Linton Kwesi Johnson, offering a heartfelt advisory on avoiding modern cultural toxins. “I don’t recommend a morose existence,” she recites over Herington’s ska-infused guitar and marimba samples, “but life is an art and perspective needs distance / But ya gotta get lean and scrappy and fight / If you’re gonna begin to get livin’ right.”

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