Honoring an American chanteuse
From the Spring 2003 issue.
A Woman Alone With the Blues: Remembering Peggy Lee
By Maria Muldaur
Telarc Records: 2003
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Maria Muldaur may forever be defined by her early '70s hit, "Midnight at the Oasis," but she'll forever make a pretty penny in residuals from it, too.
Just don't make the mistake of thinking that's all she's done, or that she's just another oldies act living off her past.
Muldaur has continued recording through the years, continued moving around musically. If she started her public career with Jim Kweskin's Jug Band during the hippie heyday, she's since been all over the map blues, country, jazz.
All of which serves her well in her latest venture, a tribute to the late Peggy Lee (who left us just over a year ago).
If there was ever an American chanteuse, it was Lee who wrapped her smokey voice around every shade of American music, from Tin Pan Alley to straight-ahead jazz to the sort of after-hours blues that Billie Holiday favored.
And if Muldaur doesn't quite nail that sultry, seductress angle of Lee's style, she brings her own earthy aspect to her reading of Lee's songs. Her voice is thinner than Lee's, but is more nimble rather than attempt a re-creation of Lee, Muldaur playes to her own strengths.
Muldaur is every bit as relaxed and in control as Lee was, and having the late Charles Brown's longtime guitarist Danny Caron sit in with the band only adds to the feeling of a late-night set at some downtown bistro to a small crowd of regulars.
The song selection is similarly solid. From the obvious choice of "Fever" to "Black Coffee," the hip "Some Cats Know" to the title track, you can't really complain about any of the songs here. Including "Always True to You in My Fashion" would have been nice hey, there's always Muldaur's next album.
Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).