Spotify Listen Link: Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts
If you're a loyal reader (do I have any of those out there?), you know from a few months back that Norah Jones is my girl. She's freaking talented as hell and does so much. I have so much respect for this lady, and could not be more excited for her latest solo album.
I saw posters announcing this release all over the East Village. I mean, everywhere! It was one thing to see them on walls, where you normally see posters, but these were in restaurants all over the place, like they were promoting a show, not just a purchase. It was crazy. Not to mention, the artwork was really cool.
So Miss Jones is back in business. This is only her fifth album, though obviously she's done a lot of other recorded projects in other capacities and arrangements. What's funny to me is that Wiki bills this as a pop and alternative album - two genres I'd never really put Norah's bigger hits into. She's always been jazz/blues to me, maybe folk. Anywhos, it's produced by Danger Mouse, who she's obviously worked with before (click on "Rome" to the right to check out their work along with Jack White).
The title's actually stylized to be ...Little Broken Hearts, which, of course, you won't see on a lot of players. "It tells the story of Jones emancipating herself from a relationship and finding that she is better off alone" (from the Wikipedia entry on the album). I usually don't like seeing those sort of descriptions before listening, but hey, what girl isn't going to probably buy into that concept? I do have to say, I love this quote from Rolling Stone from her though: "I always heard the old stories about how you write better songs when you go through some shit. That sucks, but it's true!" Damn straight lady!
Here's an album trailer!!
I suppose appropriately, the following song is "Say Goodbye." The mood intensity picks up just a little bit, as we get some real rhythm going with the drums and plucks. Lovely, there's an effect on the microphone. But this does sound like things are in her hands on the leaving end of things. She's been done and is moving past it all. This sort of does cross into that pop genre I was wondering about - it's a bit cutesy in sound.
"Little Broken Hearts" seems to take us just a little deeper and make things just a little darker. The notes move downward, and the chords hit more on the minor side. Norah's tone is more thoughtful and provoking. From what I can gather on the lyrics, this seems like an observation on the broken hearts walking through the world. Man, a hurt heart can really fuck up your world, and this is an excellent observation of that - not just on a short-term basis, but also in the long-term realm of things. Check out this live version of the track on one of my favorite things, Live on Letterman.
"Take It Back" keeps so steadily to this slower mode with little-to-no.. wait, I take whatever I was about to say back. When the drum picks up around the two minute mark, things take a turn. It still has a sound that I can only describe as bizarre, but intriguing. Things are dark and hurt, and maybe a little bitter. It's a fascinatingly designed song.
Alright, we're going just slightly digital, but through means of the instrument (odd having the picking of a guitar sound so computerized) for "After the Fall." The song keeps the darker tone, but adds in this almost wester riff that carries the whole song off into the wind for a few moments here and there. The beat is a little odd, but odd seems to be working here again and again. At the halfway point, I can only seem to call this album interesting.
"4 Broken Hearts" is very bluesy, and very smokey. There's still an effect on her mic, which has been lingering there since the very first track. You can at least tell that it's Norah, and her voice still has it, but there's a continuing echo of it that just seem excessive. The song itself seems to be about his eventual broken heart from the new girl, and probably hers from the new guy. She's open to the possibility of reunion though.
Just small quick successions of notes play in the background of this one. The line, "I'm just taking my time, taking it all in" seems to exemplify this to perfection. "Travelin' On" is sort of about moving on, but more importantly learning from where you've been. It's all happening in a state of disbelief, but it is happening nonetheless. Here's a sort of nifty in-studio clip:
The next one is the single, and it's sort of completely different from the rest of the album. "Happy Pills" is one I've only heard once or twice, but remember bopping my head a little in the car to it. Of course, this is the trial of forgetting him, and hey, sometimes you need some help. Let's face it - this comes in different forms - sometimes alcohol, sometimes music, or whatever the rest of y'all use. Interestingly enough though - she's trying to get him to let her go. That, or she's just got him in her head too much and this is how to get him out. I don't know - it's all about getting rid of the guy. Or whatever you want to take from the story this video has to tell:
Hm, then we end it all with "All A Dream." We're getting our final statement of torture and sadness and letting go from Norah. It's all still twisted and dark and keeps reminding me of Meredith Grey. In this final ballad of emancipation (we brought it back around!), we're just completely letting go of sense and anger and floating away on the air of a memory.
Added to My Playlist:
- "Little Broken Hearts"
- "Out On The Road"
- "Happy Pills"
This was so odd, but really cool. Clearly, Norah's going in a different direction than she did when we first heard about her and fell in love with her music. She's grown, earned her stripes, and is now able to experiment a lot more with her releases. While not everything on here was appealing, it was interesting and worth listening to.