New Release (Blue Note)
Despite her eyebrow-raising choice of Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton as producer, this is exactly the album you’d expect Norah Jones to make at this point in her career, continuing the more away from cabaret jazz and toward textured, atmospheric pop. Be warned however that the sequencing almost sabotages the album: The first half dozen songs are about pretty sounds and not much else: Jones’ vocals are characteristically gorgeous but there isn’t much melody or mystery to grab onto, and Burton proves a surprisingly timid producer, with soundscapes that sound like muted versions of real instruments. Not until “4 Broken Hearts”, do Jones and Burton figure out what they’re really up to: They’re making a Fleetwood Mac album, specifically a Tango In the Night-type album where the sound is lush but abstract. California rock becomes the touchstone for the rest of the disc, and there’s just enough edge—whether in the heavier drums of “4 Broken Hearts,” the sinister feel of “Happy Pills”, or the murder threat that’s sweetly addressed to a romantic rival on “Miriam.” Try playing this one in reverse order.
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