Norah Jones - Little Broken Hearts
Record Label: Blue Note/EMI
Release Date: April 25, 2012
Norah Jones has written the album of her career and it sounds absolutely nothing like any of her previous albums. That in and of itself is why the nation (errr, the world) needs to fall in love with Little Broken Hearts. Produced by Danger Mouse, the album is dark, dirty and ultimately, incredibly hypnotic. Album opener "Good Morning," opens things off with her ever-present piano, the light strum of a guitar and her gorgeous, if not sparse vocals. In terms of an opening salvo, it is everything one would come to expect from Jones. But then things start to turn. And turn they do. Into what is easily the most engaging and audacious effort she has ever created.
On the playful and buoyant "Say Goodbye," she sounds as sexy as ever and uses a sonic landscape not unlike The Black Keys. It's a bit gritty, it's a bit bluesy and it is an absolute scorcher. That sense of dusky blues thick with drums is repeated on "Take It Back," which seems borrowed straight from the Broken Bells playbook, while lead single "Happy Pills," is bouncy and winsome.
"4 Broken Hearts," is haunting and hypnotic and sounds like Bonnie Raitt channeling Bon Iver, while "Traveling On," features pronounced cello and a homey veneer that is simple and restrained. But Jones is at her best when she channels her emotions and throws herself into her music. Nowhere is that more apparent than on the darkly disturbing "Miriam," in which she uses chilly piano to paint a bleak and startling portrait of just how far she's willing to go to keep her man. Not only is the song visceral in its portrayal of her emotions, but the piano work exhibited here continues to prove that Jones is and always will be a first-rate player.
That sense of anger and possession on "Miriam" is also at work on "She's 22," a bare bones effort in which just her and a guitar tell the story. For those that that like Jones when she is jazzy, soulful and incandescent than "After the Fall," is just the kind of song to keep you bobbing along. Gauzy, languorous and supple, it proves that even in an arena far different from her traditional jazz structure, Jones still has the panache and polish to make an album worth coming back to. And yet for all the charming moments of Little Broken Hearts, few of the songs are as stirring, arresting or indelible as the six-minute "All a Dream," which uses violins and bluesy guitars to make for an epic and fitting conclusion to an album that is an absolute unconventional delight.
The staying power of Little Broken Hearts is that Jones dared to do something different. She could have crafted another album like previous four and stuck to her bread and butter. But she chose not to. She chose to reinvent herself, transform her sound and try to push her limits. That Little Broken Hearts is as strong as this is only a testament to her inherent skill and her determination to be the best she can be. And on Little Broken Hearts, she's as good as ever.
Your opening sentence hits the nail on the head. I've never been a fan of Norah Jones (not even rightly so; I just didn't like that popular single she put out a while back), but this album not only impressed me, it blew me out of the water! My friend played the album and I was like "wow, who is this?" Good review and fully backed.
Gotta agree with you here. Never been a big fan of Norah Jones but dangermouse hooked this one up. This is not only an amazing record but it is one of my favorites of the year, which says a lot considering I'm not really a fan of hers and I listen to wayyy too much music. Really fun upbeat but dark record, I suggest this for fans of all genres!