Madeleine Peyroux's unique blend of jazz and pop was first unveiled on 1996's DREAMLAND, where she sounded like a postmodern heir to the smoky-voiced tradition that ran down from Billie Holiday through the likes of Karen Dalton and Judy Roderick. Though Peyroux made a splash with her debut, she quickly dropped out of the music scene, not to appear again until eight years later with the long-overdue follow-up, CARELESS LOVE. Here, Peyroux tackles material from a variety of sources; some songs were written expressly for her by such contemporary songsmiths as Jesse Harris (who penned Norah Jones's breakthrough hit, "Don't Know Why"). Perhaps most striking, though, are her interpretations of older compositions. Peyroux redefines the darkly yearning Leonard Cohen tune "Dance Me to the End of Love" as a sultry invitation rather than a heart-on-the-sleeve plea. Her lighter-than-air stroll through the clouds of Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" has a graceful ease that puts the song's many previous cover versions to shame. Throughout CARELESS LOVE, Peyroux--with highly sympathetic production from Joni Mitchell right-hand-man Larry Klein--proves fully up to the task of redefining the role of torch singer for the careworn 21st century.