Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Dunstan Playhouse
Until 09 Jun 2018

Review by Maggie Wood

You can dip yourself in honey, and then roll yourself in molasses, or you can listen to Madeleine Peyroux for just under ninety minutes. The effects on your soul, mind and psyche will be exactly the same.

This delightful drowsiness is caused by vocals as smooth as the two foodstuffs previously mentioned, and total sleep is only avoided by her enlivening vocal ability to stray off the path – as only good jazz singers can – taking slightly improbable twists and turns before returning safely to the melody and the beat.

Peyroux is appearing in Adelaide for two shows only, for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, along with her crack four piece band.

Her set began quickly and humbly as she scampered in the half-darkness from the wings to a centre stage chair, picked up her guitar and went straight into “J’Ai Deux Amours”, one of only two songs she sang in her second language, French, acquired when she lived in Paris for a number of years as a teenager.

From there she covered her other sources of origin – the American South and Brooklyn – before introducing her band and meandering forth into her full set.

She’s been likened in the past to Billie Holiday, and certainly there are some vocal similarities, to that great singer. However she doesn’t balk at using her voice as an instrument in itself and exploring where that can add nuance and definition to a song.

She covered some old favourites including “Careless Love”, “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”, and “Dance Me to the End of Love”, as well as taking time to introduce us to her newer material.

At times she teased the audience for being quieter than she’s used to, but like many reserved Adelaide audiences, as soon as they received permission they let rip with their encouragement.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival has gifted us a rare treat with this artist, and if you’ve missed her this time around there’s still the opportunity to catch up with her interstate as she progresses her Australian tour.

On a cold winter’s night in Adelaide, for a few hours, the patrons of the Dunstan Playhouse basked gloriously in the warmth of her talent.