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Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts

May 6, 2012

In the fall of 2001 I had fallen in love with a no name vocalist who did a cover of Roxy Music’s “More Than This” on a Charlie Hunter album – a little more than a year later that no name vocalist had blown up as Norah Jones.

When Norah Jones’ debut came out in 2002 I was pumped (I did not make the connection to the Charlie Hunter album).  I had read the pre-release hype:  a 22-year-old vocalist and pianist, daughter of Ravi Shankar, Blue Note, raised in Texas (but with a New York state of mind), produced by Arif Mardin – not quite jazz, not quite folk, but sophisticated pop.  I bought it the day it was released and I was completely enamored and listened to it for months.  It took a while for the album to take hold of the pop world, but when it did it was a monster.

Unfortunately Norah’s next releases never quite hit me the same.  They were good, but not great.  But then she would tease with amazing cameos – Willie Nelson (sure that make sense), Foo Fighters (really?), The OutKast (odd), and a lark masquerading as an indie-rock band (El Madmo).  Last year she teased even more with a few cuts on Danger Mouse’s Rome. Her dalliances were more fun than her career.

Earlier this year I heard she was going to do a full album with Danger Mouse.  It arrived this past week and it is her best release since her debut.  Danger Mouse has a light touch here – a bit of spaghetti western, spacy folk,  and mellowed 80s new wave.  All the songs are co-written by Danger Mouse and Norah.  Lyrically is lightly spiteful – which fits Norah’s sultry voice and image perfect.  This is music you can easily have on as background music, but your can also dial in an enjoy it front and center.  This is a new sound for Norah, but not out of character – it sounds totally authentic.

As a side note: the cover art warns you that this is going to be something new.  After years of tasteful photos for her covers she goes for naughty/gaudy.  See this New York Times feature on the cover.

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From → Music Reviews

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