Norah Jones: The Fall

RIYL Cassandra Wilson, Grace Potter, Patty Larkin

Advance word to the contrary, Norah Jones’ fourth album shows a marked change in approach but little difference in attitude. Stirring up the ambiance with synths, effects, beats and a general trend towards more modern programming tools, Jones lays out a steady series of laments about traitorous lovers and ruined relationships with a distinct emphasis on disillusionment in general. Titles like “Stuck,” “I Wouldn’t Need You” and “You’ve Ruined Me” offer an early hint of her malfunctioning mindset, but lines like “If I touched myself the way you touched me…then I wouldn’t need you,” speak directly to her disappointment. Conversely, the carnival-like atmosphere of “Chasing Pirates,” the practically jaunty “Tell Yer Mama” and the propulsive duo of “Young Blood” and “It’s Gonna Be” prove a welcome respite from the deathly serious tact that Jones helped trademark on her three earlier albums.

Norah edit 2

And while there’s still ample evidence of that wounded, torch song set-up imbued in “Manhattan,” “Even Though,” “I Wouldn’t Need You” and “Waiting,” even her more sobering perspectives seem somewhat more illuminated, given fuller arrangements that detract attention from her solitary keyboard and instead steer the proceedings towards the emphatic strum of her electric guitar. Ending the album on a lighter note that finds her offering an ode to her dog – the winsome “Man of the Hour” – shows that for her all her trepidation and turmoil, Jones has the capability of picking herself up, no matter how serious the fall. Blue Note 2009

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