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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.

“Music has been our spiritual life,” she says. “So I think of these as hymns, secular hymns—songs that are very individual, personal, introverted.”

With her seductively expressive voice, Peyroux intimately renders tunes by seminal blues artists (two penned by Willie Dixon and one by Lil Green), the classic gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the under-the-radar dub star Linton Kwesi Johnson, three renowned contemporary composers (Tom Waits, Townes Van Zandt, Allen Toussaint), the 19th century composer Stephen Foster (considered to be the first great songwriter in America) and ending with a traditional African-American spiritual.

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