Music Review: Norah Jones' “The Fall”

12/07/2009 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Gita Gupte

Norah Jones is a beautiful and sometimes quirky 30-year-old singer with an amazing talent for bringing soft, smooth, jazz-influenced, piano-heavy songs to the mainstream. In 2002, her debut album, “Come Away With Me,” was recognized by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences with a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Her first single, “Don’t Know Why,” hit the top spot on the U.S. Billboard 200 and made its way onto Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Chart. With instant fame, Jones had a tough act to follow--her own.

But follow, she did. Her second album, “Feels Like Home,” sold over a million copies in the first week of release and became the highest-selling album in the History of Blue Note Records, as well as the second best-selling album of 2004. Additionally, her third studio release, “Not To Late,” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and was one of the top 10 best-selling albums of 2007.

Thus, with the release of her fourth studio album, “The Fall,” critics and fans alike want to know, “Can Norah deliver again?” Quite simply, the answer is "Yes."  The album opens with the charmingly mellow, yet surprisingly up-beat “Chasing Pirates,” in which Norah croons, “I don’t know how to slow it down.” This seems pretty accurate, because the song indicates that her fourth album is just as worthy of merit as her previous three. The next track, “Even Though,” blends right into the first, leaving you to wonder if you really are listening to a different song. But this is okay, because the track is so sweet and hints at what we would get if the vocal stylings of Stevie Nicks, Alannah Miles and Suzanne Vega were to all harmoniously blend together into one.

The electric beat of “It’s Gonna Be” takes this effort to the next level by providing a sultry southern sound that has Norah venting about the cruelty of a society without conscious, in which she sings, “Now a princess becomes human, don’t stone her on a talk show, you’ll ruin, ‘cause there’s a fine line between a skewer and a decent sense of humor.”

The songs on “The Fall” never stray too far from Norah’s signature sound, except maybe for “Young Blood,” in which she goes a little too Nashville for the rest of the album. But on its own, the track is decent. “I Wouldn’t Need You” and “Back to Manhattan” fulfill Norah fans of their need for the softer, piano-infused melodies of earlier albums while “Man of the Hour” gives us a peek into her former lounge singer days. “Stuck” also has this quality, but not completely. Its drumbeats and electric guitar bring it back to modern-day.

Overall, Norah still has a mysterious way of connecting us with our own feelings of sadness and vulnerability without us actually feeling sad or vulnerable. Instead, her soothing voice makes us feel as if everything will be okay. “The Fall” is a wonderful soundtrack to a rainy Sunday morning or a casual stroll in the park and has me believing that Norah Jones is here to stay.

Grade: A-

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