Norah Jones "Not Too Late" Album Review
Not To Late
The exceptionally beautiful and extremely talented Norah Jones may be the perfect tonic to guide us through these ever-troubling times.
After a hard day of trying to make ends meet, just one casual listen of Jones’ sultry voice is guaranteed to lower your blood pressure and is also capable of making you think that everything will somehow be alright.
Such is the power of Norah Jones and the music that she makes.
But Jones too, is obviously aware that we’ve all seen better days, and her third release, 2007’s Not Too Late, is colored with a slightly darker tint than the chanteuse’s first two albums on the Blue Note label were.
While all the material on her latest album might not be light and breezy, Jones’ smoothly-satisfying voice has lost not one ounce of the charm and allure that catapulted 2002’s Come Away with Me, her debut offering, straight into the musical stratosphere.
Come Away with Me was like a cool wind sweeping down a hot prairie, and it sounded not one little bit like anything else sounded that year.
While it was shooting up the charts and standing out from the pack, it also won the Texas-raised daughter of master sitarist Ravi Shankar five Grammy Awards, including one for Best New Artist. Come Away with Me has sold a staggering 25 million copies since its release.
It also climbed the heights of the Billboard charts, not stopping until it had locked down the number one spot.
Rare air indeed for a first offering.
While Come Away with Me was awash in a sea of jazz-pop waters, her follow-up, 2004’s Feels Like Home, swung with a more of a country vibe. But with influences like Billie Holiday, Bill Evans and Willie Nelson, Jones is clearly comfortable dancing in both the jazz and country worlds, while also injecting a easily digestible pop element into the mix.
On Not too Late, Jones also took more of an involvement in the actual birth of the songs, and she had a hand in writing every song on the disc.
And if the second song, “Sinkin’ Soon” is any indication, you can probably count Tom Waits among the influences that Jones cites. Because that tune certainly could have been hiding in one of the many deep, dark caverns that wind through the brilliantly-twisted mind of Waits. While it’s a real departure from what we’re used to hearing from Jones, this cabaret of the macabre works well with Jones’ personal touch. “Hold your breath – we’re gonna be sinkin’ soon.” Not exactly the most romantic image in the world, but with the way Jones purrs over a landscape of muted trumpets, it don’t seem too bad to be headed to the ocean floor with a brick tied around your waist.
"Think About You"
The album opener, “Wish I Could” is an understated ballad full of yearning for what could have been featuring some delicate acoustic guitar and deep, rich cello, giving the tune an almost folk-like feel.
In terms of the sonic space it occupies, “The Sun Doesn’t Like You” finds its home straddling somewhere between Come Away With Me and Feels Like Home.
Lyrically however, with visions of razor wire and guard dogs, the tune evokes memories of anything but smooth jazz. But as on the other cuts on Not Too Late, the direction that Jones feels compelled to travel in turn out to be winning destinations.
However, she hasn’t totally forgotten about her first pair of CDs.
“Thinking About You,” with its horns and Hammond B3 percolating along, is one of the most “pop-sounding” cuts on the disc. This is the kind of tune that could live forever on the adult contemporary charts. Jones even adds some Wurlitzer to the mix and as always, her skills on the ivories are every bit as silky as her vocals.
And that’s really where Not Too Late really succeeds on all levels – on the strength of Jones’ superb voice.
It doesn’t matter that the songs are splashed with a slightly-different wrinkle that what we may have been accustomed to from Jones.
All that really matters is that from the opening cut until the last cut, we get 13 more chances to let Jones take us to the moon and back.
To truly indulge in the total Norah Jones experience, slip a copy of her Live in New Orleans into your DVD player.
And prepare to float away, leaving everything else far, far behind. Please click here if you think Norah Jones made the list for the top jazz songs of all time.