Album reviews: Little Broken Hearts
You have to grant it to Norah Jones; she refuses to let the rest of us box her into our version of what she is as a musician.
Little Broken Hearts
Artist: Norah Jones
Label: Blue Note Records
PrIce: Rs 395
In the ten years since the release of her massive debut, she has moved from soft jazz to co-founding a country music band (The Little Willies) to collaborating with everyone from the Foo Fighters (Virginia Moon) and Willie Nelson (Baby, it’s Cold Outside) to OutKast (Take Off Your Cool) and Ray Charles (Here We Go Again). That’s a lot of big names to cram into a decade-long career.
She’s done it again this time; first, by bringing on board former collaborator and purveyor of cool Danger Mouse (a.k.a. Brian Burton) as producer, then by letting him mess with her distinct sugar-coated voice — something only a supremely confident artiste would agree to — before adding a bit of electronica to the whole mix. Amazing what a debut that wins eight Grammies can let you do.
This is clearly a marriage of equals, with Burton giving Jones enough room to play with her vocals while she reciprocates by letting him experiment sonically. The result is a little gem that grows on one with every listen. The songs, mostly about a break-up, also reveal how she has evolved as a writer. At the midway mark (She’s 22), Jones sings: ‘To a thing that’s wrong ‘cause we don’t belong, but you like my songs and you make me happy. Does she make you happy?’
On Miriam, which could have been a great album closer, she is decidedly chilling: ‘Miriam, you know you done me wrong. I’m gonna smile when you say goodbye. I’m gonna smile when I take your life.’ Who would have thought the line could have come from someone who wrote Come Away With Me?