Stories » Madeleine Peyroux - Secular Hymns / Evening Standard review

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Madeleine Peyroux - Secular Hymns / Evening Standard review

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"The human voice is like fruit. It ripens," says Madeleine Peyroux, gazing out of her London hotel room window. "My voice has definitely become stronger, filled with more emotion." Her intelligent eyes flash. "Which makes sense, since the voice is part of the body. All your life experience goes in there, whether you like it or not."

We're talking about the American singer-guitarist's latest album, Secular Hymns, a clutch of tunes by composers from Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits to British dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and late American gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, which Peyroux recorded in a 12th-century church in rural Oxfordshire. The venue's natural acoustics highlight the wonderfully unhurried nature of a repertoire she unveiled 20 years ago with her acclaimed debut, Dreamland. While it's a vibe she's continued over several albums of impeccably chosen material - including a smattering of sweet-sad originals - on Secular Hymns the new maturity in Peyroux's sultry voice is striking.