thu 18/10/2018

CD: Norah Jones - Day Breaks | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Norah Jones - Day Breaks

CD: Norah Jones - Day Breaks

A welcome return to jazzier roots for the US singer-songwriter

Going back to her roots: Norah Jones

The human voice is as individual as a fingerprint: the emotional, melancholic pull of Billie Holiday; the slightly nasal, always ironic quality of Donald Fagen; the overheated melismas of Mariah Carey; and Michael Bolton, the aural equivalent of the Krakatoa eruption. Listening to “Carry On”, the lead single from her sixth solo album Day Breaks, Norah Jones's voice is characterised not only by its great tonal warmth but also by its conversational intimacy.

The album is being billed as a return to the sound-world of her much garlanded debut Come Away With Me, which it is – to an extent. In fact, thanks to impressive covers of Horace Silver’s “Peace” and Duke Ellington’s “Fleurette Africaine (African Flower)”, plus a mouth-watering personnel list which includes Blue Note label mates Wayne Shorter on soprano sax, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade, it’s considerably jazzier than that debut. There are actual solos, for a start.

There’s also considerably greater textural interest: a string quartet, sparingly used; the churchy Hammond B3 of another Blue Note artist, Dr Lonnie Smith; and, on a terrific cover of Neil Young’s raw, disenchanted “Don’t Be Denied” (which sees Jones switching the lyrics to the third-person and making the protagonist a girl) the wonderfully rich, layered backing vocals of the original and the additional punch of a horn section.

A number of beautiful originals include the statuesque, Bill-Evans-meets-Erik-Satie alternating chords of “And Then There Was You” and the folk-like simplicity of the title track, featuring Jones in her airy upper register, whose shuffling drums, riffing guitar ostinatos, bell-like piano patterns and ghostly strings fade into eternity over a vintage Shorter solo. Meanwhile, in the righteous anger of “Flipside” (“Put the guns away or we’re all gonna lose”) we see just how far the singer-songwriter has journeyed since the debut.

@MrPeterQuinn

Watch the video for "Carry On" 

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