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Peyroux does a fine job applying her own mix of quirky balladry and insouciant post-swing to many of the tunes that Charles interpreted on two successful country collections five decades ago—among them the Hank Williams classic "Take These Chains From My Heart," the Everly Brothers staple "Bye Bye Love," and the Kitty Wells hit "I Can't Stop Loving You," which Charles pretty much made his own. Along the way she adds a few songs of more recent vintage: Randy Newman's "Guilty," Warren Zevon's "Desperadoes Under the Eaves," and the Buddy Holly obscurity "Changing All Those Changes," the video for which is below. (For the time being you can stream the entire album at the Wall Street Journal.) Cuscuna's liner notes also point out that Peyroux and Klein didn't try to replicate the Charles recordings—a wise move—but if you're not going to add something to the tunes or bring the same kind of soul that coursed through Charles's blood, then what's the big deal?
For seven of the album's ten tracks, Vince Mendoza wrote refined string arrangements, and they consistently feel out of place; instead of meshing with the core backing band (drummer Jay Bellerose, bassist David Piltch, organist Larry Goldings, and guitarist and pedal steel whiz Dean Parks), they're mostly just gilding the lily. The presence of the strings is surely a hat tip to the Charles recordings, whose countrypolitan arrangements treated the rhythm section and the strings as part of the same orchestra, but here the two elements feel grafted together. Peyroux plays the Old Town School on Friday, fronting a sextet that includes terrific organist Gary Versace and only a single string player, violinist Sylvia D'Avanzo; I'm expecting the lugubrious orchestrations to be all but absent.