(Blue Note Records)
The more that Ms Jones lets her jazzy side through, the more natural and satisfying her music becomes. This doesn’t in any way preclude popular appeal and on this showing just adds depth and moreover colour to the compositions and range of the record. All that Norah Jones needs and arguably has ever needed are a bunch of spirited musical companions. Which brings us to the players on this collection…
The producers are Jones and Eu Wolf with co-production Sarah Oda. The musicians include Wayne Shorter on sax, John Patituchi acoustic bass, Brian Blade drums, Tony Scherr guitar, Chris Thomas bass, Dr Lonnie Smith Hammond, Dave Guy Trumpet..you get the picture and all the other impressive names are in the booklet. Jones’ own piano has never sounded more inventive and melodic.
Burn is the softest of starters and you almost expect Joni to start singing, but in comes the husky voice of Jones over the busy bass and trilling breath of Shorter’s sax. The piano is languid and evokes Andrew Hill ; Tragedy pours warmth out of the speakers, the piano lyrical over sighing Hammond and a laid-back vocal.
Flipside has had an airing on various US late night shows and is a beautiful trip into the heady realms of psych jazz, simultaneously catchy and out there. A masterpiece and there is a distant echo of Steely Dan ; It’s A Wonderful Time For Love has a real Cole Porter title and the brush drumming and steady bass keep things rolling. Was Norah thinking of Peggy Lee or Lena Horne when recording this ? You might think so. And Then There Was You has an InchWorm tempo, albeit softened. She sounds two hundred years old here ! Don’t Be Denied is a classic song with a story lyric and how I would have loved to her Dusty Springfield tackle this, the yearn is there.
The title cut Day Breaks uses tremelo’d guitar to paint an eerie picture ; Peace is a relaxed piece, with just-so pianoand bowed bass ; Once I Had A Laugh turns out not to be a Leonard Cohen number, rather a touch of Vaudeville and not a huge step from Hoagy Carmichael. Maybe the best vocal here ? Sleeping Wild is a moody, evening breeze again with a Peggy Lee tinge. Carry On is almost gospel, emphasises by the church hall Hammond. Wrap-up number is Fleurette Africaine taking an elegant stroll through shadowy textures
Far too laid-back for some, this collection breathes its way into your psyche if you give it an inch. A soundtrack to many romantic evenings, I venture..after you have played the Bennett- Gaga record and poured another glass…
Norah Jones’s new studio album ‘Day Breaks’ is out now on Blue Note Records. For more information visit: http://www.norahjones.com/