Nine-time Grammy award winner Norah Jones can expect her tenth on her dark but delightful, decadent new disc. The greatest female singer/songwriter of our generation and one of the best in the world ever – of either gender – over the last few years has turned breakup into hard work and classic material. The artist who released the classics Come Away With Me, Feels Like Home and Not Too Late went electric in 2009 with the release of The Fall. Since then, she has collaborated and pushed musical envelopes even further.
The lady who has recorded on wax with everyone from Willie Nelson to Andre 3000, put a duets, compilation album on record (…Featuring) and has already released an album this year with her country cover outfit The Little Willies (For The Good Times). If that wasn’t enough, Norah travelled on a musical journey with Jack White to ‘Rome’ featuring on Danger Mouse and Daniel Luppi’s album project. Now following a sensational solo album from rock leading man Jack White (the brilliant ‘Blunderbuss’ released last week) comes this leading lady’s latest. What’s more, prominent producer Danger Mouse returns to the studio for more sessions with Miss Jones, manning and boarding the whole album.
Danger Mouse helps expand Norah’s new eclectic, genre-bending style that made The Fall so welcome, all whilst maximising the chemistry and sound they experimented with on classic tracks like Seasons Trees off Rome. Sure Danger’s scoring here almost gives credit to this being a full-on collaboration, but despite the influence and inspiration, this is still all Norah, and despite the change in style, the substance of who Jones is as a person and performer is not compromised, and that’s a great thing.
From the Sin City-style sexy and sultry artwork (actually inspired by the movie Mudhoney), to the Mad Men-fashioned, murder mystery video for the perfect, popping single Happy Pills, Jones and Mouse take it back to the simpler-sounding, vintage, hallmark good ole days of music. If you thought the incredible Lana Del Rey took it back, then you’ll have to listen further to Norah on songs like After The Fall (if you’re talking about your last album Norah then the answer is ‘yes’) and the aptly titled Take It Back. Her smoky, smouldering trademark vocals, verve us back to the velvet past of blues and alternative rock and soul, while her breakup-inspired, deadly humorous lyrics bite sharper then the ‘Gangster Nancy Sinatra’ dubbed Lana. Just check Miriam or the She’s 22 for further reason to this rhyme.
Any great singer would be proud of Norah Jones’ latest effort; it’s a straight classic. The atmosphere created from the combination of her beautifully haunting voice and Danger Mouse’s bold, brooding backdrop can be breathed in through the speakers. The gorgeous, steamy Good Morning awakens this album like the classic Sunrise did, but, unlike the former hits’ light rise, this is a more foggy feel. Still like the great Say Goodbye and the album-titled follower, it all sounds so much better.
Tracks like the classic verse chambers of 4 Broken Hearts and the musical landscapes traversed on Travellin On and Out On The Road help make this fifth formidable album an American classic. This well-written journey like Kerouac goes deep into the heart and soul of love, life, music and lyrics, and with Danger Mouse riding shotgun we can only hope these two artists travel together again on another LP that sounds and feels like the perfect soundtrack. Down the road this won’t only be one of Norah Jones most experimental albums, it’ll be her best. Ending with All A Dream, this midnight-hour evoking set seems just too good…and it’s all true too. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Norah will be touring Australia in January 2013.