Asking an artist to give an “elevator pitch” about their album is a bit of a classic in the music-reportage game—it’s a nice softball question to get things rolling.
Norah Jones is having none of it. “I don’t think that’s my job,” says the singer baldly, not smiling, from her seat in a Toronto hotel room. “You listen to it and come up with your own opinions; I can’t control what everyone is thinking.” That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have opinions about what people write about her—in particular, the marketing materials that accompanied her new album, Day Breaks. “I mean, I approve the press release, but I’m always like, ‘It’s corny,’” she says. “And do we have to keep saying ‘return to roots’? That’s not inaccurate, but it’s not the whole shebang.”
The return Jones is referring to is this: After four years of no solo music (a time she filled with having two kids and being in an alt-country band, the Little Willies), the 37-year-old is releasing an album heavily based on the piano playing that made the “Come Away With Me” singer the great hope of jazz music in the early ’00s.
“What’s actually unique about this album is that all the songs were written on the piano,” says Jones. “I usually write on the guitar.” The result is an album—which, from beginning to end, is soulful, thoughtful and deliberately low-key, much like Jones herself—that you will turn to on slow November mornings. (“Don’t Be Denied,” in particular, pairs well with the bubbling sound of coffee percolating.) n