WEDNESDAY, MAY 09, 2012 |
Posted by: Carianne Hixson
Norah Jones climbed her way to the top of the charts back in 2002 with "Come Away With Me." It was a breath of fresh, relaxing air that landed her sultry vocals on the forefront of the conversation and walking away from the year with a handful of Grammys. Unfortunately, that hit became the epilogue of her jazz career, forcing her into a corner of criticism due to her consistently understated, ballad-like songs being pigeonholed as only fitting for a coffee house. She stayed true to her style even with that criticism until 2009 where she experimented with a rockier sound on The Fall and now she's taking that experimentation to new levels with James Mercer/Broken Bells producer Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton.
It seems like that would be all you need to create a solid album, but Norah Jones has developed a 12 chapter story about the hardships of a broken love and it isn't all that exciting. Danger Mouse was only able to assist her in developing that story, he could not mask the apparent blemishes. There's a change of pace on this album and it exudes a new side of Jones that we didn't know before where she fights her inner demons defiantly-- she even flirts with murderous tendencies. But the first track, "Good Morning" doesn't expose her new style immediately. It's a wanderlust journey through her diary with endearingly transcendental instrumentation perfect for listening to first thing in the morning (fitting for the title).
Then we jump into "Say Goodbye" and it sounds like a female cover of Broken Bells "The High Road," just void of Mercer's brilliant lyrics. There's dullness to Jones lyricism and it keeps the listener from searching for more. The simpleness of her previous albums worked well with the sound of delicate pianos, but this time around they evoke a falsehood, as if she's delving into unknown trying to appease the popular crowd. The real winner on this album is track eleven "Miriam." It embodies the repetitive style of her previous work, dressed with the chords of a brass guitar and other string instruments. There's a classiness to this work that reminds us of her first hit, but overall, Little Broken Hearts has an easiness to it that is off-putting, as if she was faced with the challenge of changing her style, and she did a half-assed job trying to fix it. That's not to say Norah isn't an incredibly talented singer, but I predict that her next album will exude a level of maturation and understanding that makes us all say with conviction, "this is the one."