Norah puts her heart into it
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.