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Madeleine Peyroux: The Blue Room

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Ray Charles’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You” is a great record in spite of itself. Those cloying Marty Paich strings, together with what is surely the whitest chorus ever assembled behind an R&B artist, helped make it the second-biggest pop hit of 1962. But, lifted out of the sticky morass, it is the raw ache of Charles’ vocal that defines the track’s power and glory. Endless versions have followed, including renditions by Basie and Sinatra. Madeleine Peyroux, opting for more wistful disconsolation and staying truer to the tune’s country roots, is the first to truly rival the bruised magnificence of brother Ray.

Guided by producer Larry Klein, with legitimately enriching string arrangements courtesy of Vince Mendoza, Peyroux is in part paying tribute to Charles’ landmark Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, with equally poignant treatments of “Born to Lose,” “You Don’t Know Me,” “I Love You So Much It Hurts,” “Take These Chains From My Heart” (which actually hailed from his second Country and Western excursion) and a wonderfully loose, meandering “Bye Bye Love.”

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