Review - Norah Jones - ...Little Broken Hearts
Norah Jones is easily one of the world’s most successful musicians. Ever since her debut album ‘Come Away With Me’ went diamond in the US (which shows sales of ten million copies or more) and won every Grammy possible, it seems she can do no wrong. Her next two records went right to number one as well, even though they didn’t have so much as a top 40 song to their name (Norah only has one such hit in her entire discography, 2002’s “Don’t Know Why”).
For her last album, Norah decided to step away from the light jazz for which she was known and venture into light rock/jazz fusion. ‘The Fall’ was her lowest charting album (all the way down at number three) and many critics were split on her decision to walk away from what made her famous and what she did so well.
If the critics didn’t like her trying something a little bit new, then they will really hate her new album ‘…Little Broke Hearts’ (I say this to paint a picture – the album is actually going to get some good reviews). ‘LBH’ is so far from her first album, the only thing that tie them together are Jones’ unmistakable vocals. Before I say anything else about the music, I just want to applaud Ms. Jones for doing something completely different. Many artists would run back to what was safe and known for them if the critics and the sales didn’t react perfectly to them trying something new, but Norah has made it clear that she is an artist, and that means doing what you are feeling, no matter what the numbers may say you should.
Super producer Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells, U2, Beck) joins Norah in producing the record, and sadly his presence is felt much more strongly than Norah’s. For the first time in her career (and in what will hopefully be the last), Norah seems to take a backseat to the powers above her. While ‘…Little Broke Hearts’ doesn’t sound a thing like a Norah Jones album, it very much does sound like a Danger Mouse production.
The title of her fifth CD perfectly sums up what Norah is going through here. I don’t know who this man that broke her heart was, but I will thank him. While the sound is unrecognizable and completely unfitting for Norah’s fans, that doesn’t mean that there is anything inherently wrong with it. The album is still expertly crafted in all ways. The musicianship is perfect and the songwriting is to the point and really makes you feel the pain and beaten-downness that Norah does (without bringing you too far down). The music lightens the tone and doesn’t let things get too heavy. Danger Mouse’s work on this record shows how he is a master at doing more with less; while “production” is often synonymous with lots of bangs and whistles, DM shows us how a few strings on a guitar and a drum can come together and be more than the sum of the parts.
Listen to: “Take It Back”, “Out On The Road”, and “Happy Pills” (my favorite track on the album and a song that is just too cool to deny)