Sports with the UCMB
This summer when Norah Jones sang “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” as a duet with Willie Nelson on Willie’s CD American Classic (Blue Note), it provided a clue that Norah wasn’t resting on her laurels as a jazz diva. No, she was experimenting with new musical directions. With the release of The Fall we now see some of those directions taking shape. While her impeccably clear voice remains instantly recognizable, her writing and musical talent are evolving to a new level. Norah is relying less on her jazzy piano, and more on percussion and electric guitar. Her maturing as a songwriter is obvious in one of my favorite tracks “Young Blood” (“We’ll imagine we’re sleeping revolvers/Shotgun wedding in a strange SoHo/Our chambers hold silvery collars/Gun down werewolves wherever we go”). I’ve come to expect such phrases from Jenny Lewis! Norah says: “I’m older now, and it’s evident in my writing”. You bet!
Other songs are reminiscent of Norah’s earlier superb releases, “Waiting” is almost an extension of “Turn Me On”, and “Back to Manhattan” reminds me of “New York City” recorded with the Peter Malick group. “Man of the Hour” may arguably be the best track on The Fall, even though her man turns out to be her new canine. The previously mentioned “Waiting”, “You’ve Ruined Me”, and “December” are also excellent. “Tell Yer Mama” could have easily been arranged country, but Norah states she wanted to hide that side of her in this release, so the track features organ and electric guitar in lieu of steel guitar. Jones tells Rolling Stone “The open, sparse tunes on this album ( for example “Light As A Feather” ) are different than anything I’ve ever done”. By the way, the CD tracks are FCC clean – but she does use the “G-word” is the aforementioned “Light As A Feather”.
Bottom line is, if you’re already a Norah Jones fan, you won’t be disappointed. There is a reason she’s sold 36 million recordings worldwide. With her new direction, she will without a doubt add many more loyal listeners.