No­rah puts her heart into it

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Music - JAR­RAD BE­VAN

EXORCISING demons and shat­tered dreams is a mu­si­cal tra­di­tion. The plan is to chan­nel life’s lemons into some great songs.

For the sec­ond al­bum on the trot, 33- year- old jazz singer No­rah Jones has found in­spi­ra­tion in her failed ro­mances.

Where her pre­vi­ous al­bum was half heart­bro­ken, this one is fully smashed and stomped on.

New this time around is her col­lab­o­ra­tor, pro­duc­tion wizard Brian Bur­ton ( aka Dan­ger Mouse).

In the past, Jones has sold zil­lions of al­bums with her pop- jazz and coun­trylite croon­ing. She was ac­ces­si­ble, din­ner­party playable, a safe choice and grandma’s favourite mod­ern artist.

Since then she’s branched out, not ad­ven­tur­ously ex­actly but at least as a col­lab­o­ra­tor with rap­pers and rock­ers. Bur­ton has helped her take the next step and to find a moody new groove.

Mu­si­cally, Lit­tle Bro­ken Hearts is cin­e­matic with an oh- so Dan­ger Mouse post- mod­ern haze. Her voice as al­ways is smoky, sul­try and sweet. There is re­gret and be­trayal is her tone, but her songs are sad not sullen.

Open­ing tune Good Morn­ing is grace­ful and dreamy, but she sounds like a woman who has had enough and is cash­ing in her chips.

Hairs will prick up on lis­ten­ers’ necks when she ef­fort­lessly holds her note in the cho­rus – beau­ti­ful. Even the repet­i­tive pi­ano re­frain seems to be drum­ming home her point.

Say Good­bye has a jaunty feel. It’s lively and fun even if the themes are not.

Take It Back has some dis­torted vo­cals, a fuzzy gui­tar and swell of strings in the coda that are im­pos­si­ble to mis­take as any­one but Mr Mouse. Jones’s sub­tle voice is framed by shud­der­ing, del­i­cate mu­si­cal flour­ishes.

On Happy Pills, the duo lifts the mu­sic’s mood, shift­ing to bouncy and up­beat with a play­ful rhythm and melody. Jones ap­pears to cast off the mis­ery but lis­ten hard to the lyrics – the mu­sic is a trick and she’s clearly not a happy camper.

The song that is the fur­thest from what she’s done be­fore would be the som­bre Miriam, with the Mouse help­ing chan­nel a dark and mur­der­ous side of Jones’s per­son­al­ity that has not been heard be­fore. Singing about a cheating lover’s mis­tress, she says: ‘‘ Miriam, that’s such a pretty name and I’ll keep say­ing it un­til you die.’’ Yikes!

How much was drawn from Jones’s life and how much was fic­tion, em­bel­lished for the sake of a bet­ter song, who knows? Hope­fully, Jones and the Mouse will work to­gether again – classy stuff.

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