The New Norah Jones Album “Little Broken Hearts” Sings.

For the usual five minutes there in the autumn of 2001, all the talk was about an intoxicating songstress who managed to deliver grown-up pop, infused with Nashville and gently draped in the soft velvet of candle-lit lounge.

But then Norah Jones went and did something unforgivable. She released a debut album the following February that went on to sell over 20 million copies. This she compounded by taking her overnight fame with a casual shrug of the shoulders. And if all that weren’t bad enough, she had to look like that.

None of which is terribly fair. It’s hardly her fault is hers is the sound that ends up lining the walls of every boutique, lift and shopping mall in the western world.

Nonetheless, there was a sense that when she teamed up with Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) last year, she was quietly trying to ever so slightly distance herself from the Norah Jones of old.

She’d been called in by Burton to provide vocals for three of the tracks on his Leone/Morricone inspired Rome (reviewed earlier here). And unsurprisingly, given how well that turned out, the pair have teamed up officially now to jointly produce her new album, Little Broken Hearts.

The other ingredient in the mix, as the title suggests, is a gal called Miriam, and it’s she and what she gone done that has ended up giving Jones something to get her teeth stuck into.

Well it ain’t easy to stay in love, if you can’t tell a lie, So I’ll just have to take a bow, and say good-bye, she sings on the second track “Say Goodbye”. And as the album progresses, her bitterness gently rises to the surface until eventually, Miriam is unmasked.

As Sasha Frere-Jones notes in his review of it in the New Yorker here, she manages to deftly walk the line between taking her music to the next step, but doing so without alienating her loyal, not to say vast fan base. In this regard, Burton in the ideal, indeed the only choice to act as her foil.

As ever then, plush, lush, rich velvet, but with an edge.

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