Thursday, January 14, 2010

Norah Jones The Fall 2009

Four (or five) studio records in, and we get Norah Jones' breakup record. The deeply felt breakup has been the fuel behind some of the finest singer-songwriter fare, and the magic seems to be working for Jones. This is the "different" Norah Jones record, with more guitar (four songs are piano-less), and a new band with a new sound. And what is that new sound? Delicate, intricate, subtle arrangements of good pop-rock-folk songs, with nice accents in the production and the playing. If you've heard recent Shawn Colvin records, that's very close.

The record opens with Chasing Pirates, quite possibly the popiest thing she's ever recorded. You can almost dance to it. Even Though is all sexy, sultry sadness. Light As A Feather is airy and delicate, but with fine ensemble playing. Youngblood is a driving, dark, angry tale of revenge sex. I Wouldn't Need You is a slow burn full of painful longing that sounds like it could be Lucinda Williams, and it's almost that sensual.It's Gonna Be is a stomping mid-tempo rocker that has a killer Jones Wurlitzer electric piano break.

Stuck is a solid rock ballad, with an incendiary Marc Ribot guitar lead. Tell Your Mama is some kind of off-kilter country two-step that works, and the record concludes with Jones' ode to her dog, Man Of The Hour. It's an idea that seems so obvious (the man is dead, long live the dog) I'm surprised we haven't heard it before this . It's cute, and there's some strange treatment of Jones' piano that sounds great.

Back To Manhattan sounds like a song she's done before, but most of the record is fresh. New instrumentation, new musicians, new producer, it all helps keep her often languid work from falling asleep.

So here is another solid Norah Jones record, and beautifully recorded, as usual. The sound is still organic, but with a more electronic flavors than previous outings. It's a really fine pop record by a very talented performer. It's different enough to keep things interesting. Recommended.

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