Secular Hymns (Impulse Records)

Madeleine Peyroux

Released September 16, 2017

DownBeat Five-Star Review




Twenty years after her recording debut, Dreamland, Madeleine Peyroux continues her musical journey of exploring beyond the ordinary with Secular Hymns, a spirited and soulful masterwork of loping, skipping, sassy, feisty and sexy tunes delivered in a captivating mélange of funk, blues and jazz. With her trio that had been touring together for two years—electric guitarist Jon Herington and upright bassist Barak Mori—Peyroux set out to record in a live setting a collection of songs that have their own hymn-like stories of self-awareness and inner dialogue, a communal consciousness and a spiritual essence.

Track Listing:

1. Got You on My Mind (Howard Biggs / Joe “Cornbread” Thomas) 4:30

2. Tango Till They’re Sore (Thomas Alan Waits) 3:24

3. The Highway Kind (Townes Van Zandt) 2:46

4. Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky (From Now On) (Allen Toussaint) 3:15

5. If the Sea Was Whiskey (Leonard Caston / Willie Dixon) 3:06

6. Hard Times Come Again No More (Stephen Foster) 4:16

7. Hello Babe (Lil Green / Kansas Joe McCoy) 3:10

8. More Time (Linton Kwesi Johnson) 3:22

9. Shout Sister Shout (Bill Doggett / Lucky Millinder / Sister Rosetta Tharpe) 2:42

10. Trampin’ (Traditional) 3:00


Madeleine Peyroux: vocals, acoustic guitar, guitalele

Barak Mori: bass, vocals

Jon Herington: electric guitar, vocals

Recorded in a live setting January 12 – 13, 2016, at Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Great Milton, UK

Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by Stuart Bruce

Assistant Engineer: Joe Jones

Photography: Shervin Lainez

Produced by Madeleine Peyroux


Madeleine Peyroux’s reputation is based on the understated passion of her singing. She doesn’t have to raise her voice to express the conflicted emotions that mark the human condition. She made this album with her touring group—electric guitarist John Herington and acoustic bass player Barak Mori—in an English church built in the 12th century. The wooden roof of the small cathedral brings a warm, natural reverb to Peyroux’s voice, lending these live performances a universal appeal. Her quiet reading of “The Highway Kind,” Townes Van Zandt’s memo to a woman he may never meet, makes the lyric sound even more hopeless than Van Zandt’s weary original. Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More” is usually played at a tempo that alleviates its sad poetry. Not so here. Herington’s guitar adds blue, sliding, sustained notes that echo the crying tone of a steel guitar to support Peyroux’s somber vocal. She drops into her lower register to give the usually uplifting chorus a prickly, downward spin. The trio includes a few uptempo numbers in the set. Mori and Herington slip into a reggae groove on Linton Kwesi Johnson’s “More Time.” Peyroux darts in and out of time, with Herington’s bluesy noodling giving things a little boost. The guitar and bass bring some lowkey funk to “Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky (From Now On).” After her sultry delivery of the verses, Peyroux steps back to let her band mates trade some buoyant licks. Rosetta Sharp’s “Shout Sister Shout” is the album’s most exuberant workout. A call-and-response between Peyroux and the boys underscores the song’s humorous put-down of male foibles.

J. Poet (DownBeat)