mon 20/05/2019

CD: Norah Jones - Begin Again | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Norah Jones - Begin Again

CD: Norah Jones - Begin Again

A rag tag set of recordings only serves to show Jones's musical maturity

There's a remarkable lightness to the way Norah Jones has glid through her career. She once told theartsdesk that even in her early 20s, faced with the global hyper success of Come Away With Me, “I think I was smart enough to know at the time that it was money in the bank: ‘You can do what you want now, so do it.’” And what she wanted, fantastically, was essentially to be the musician she already was only more so: steadily getting deeper into country melancholy, lounge jazz dreaming and other romantically-lit hinterlands of the American psyche

And now, 17 years on, well ensconced in the upper echelons of the industry, her musical persona seems as natural and unforced as any. And she can still do what she wants, hence deciding, instead of making a follow-up album to 2016's Day Breaks, to record seven quick collaborations, releasing some of them on the fly and compiling the lot on this little confection. It's a diverse collection, too. It ranges from classic FM radio singer-songwriter pop (the title track could be Suzanne Vega or similar Eighties introspecitonist) to the strung out American indie of Galaxie 500 or Mazzy Star in “A Song With no Name”, from 90s trip hop (“Uh Oh”) to Carole King in country mode (“Wintertime”) with great ease.

But the kicker is that whatever the vibe and reference points, it's always Norah Jones. Her voice a little more lived-in than before, a little more forceful than the gravity-free drift of those early records, but patently the same musical personality, bending both modernist and vintage sounds to fit her worldly, meditative songwriting. And when she does old and new together, as on the closer “Just a Little Bit”, which blends monumental bass tones with perfectly geometrical jazz drumming and the laziest of brass sections it really brings home how much her talent has steadily matured. It also rounds the record off perfectly making it feel – regardless of its provenance and length – like a proper album. And she makes it seem so easy...

 

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