The Fall

Easy listening princess goes indie-goth

The Fall presumably being that which comes after the pride of lovers. Or maybe the season of dead leaves, a bad time to be broken-hearted. Norah Jones’s fourth album is an extended lament for the end of the affair – but then, every note she’s ever crooned has sounded thus.

The difference is this time she’s enlisted the services of producer and engineer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Modest Mouse, Kings Of Leon) and hired players as tasty as Joey Waronker, Smokey Hormel and Marc Ribot. Their touches are subtle – insistent bass figures, phased and rusty sounding guitars, growling keyboards – but more than enough to take her out of the roots museum and into a brave new world.

Maybe Jones is so easy to warm to because she never sounds like she’s trying too hard. There’s the paradox: even when she’s coughing her guts up in a lyric, she’ll deliver the lines with a beguiling levity (‘Chasing Pirates’ evokes Ricki Lee Jones in both title and mood). “Something bout the way he touched me,” she muses in ‘Even Though’, and if not for the past tense, you’d think all was bright and breezy in her kitchen. Stick with it and the shadows grow longer. “If I touched myself the way you touched me...” she reveries a few tracks later. We hear ya, sister. Elsewhere, ‘You’ve Ruined Me’ and ‘Tell Yer Mama’ are as wry and philosophical as any coroner’s report can be, ‘Light As A Feather’, a co-write with Ryan Adams, belies the title and emerges as a dark and dangerous blues, ‘Stuck’ is spooked and spectral, and ‘Young Blood’ (“Old ghosts go home”) is a hitched to a melody that’d make your heart stammer.

Not an easy record to write, I’ll wager, but it goes down like honey.

The Fall presumably being that which comes after the pride of lovers. Or maybe the season of dead leaves, a bad time to be broken-hearted. Norah Jones’s fourth album is an extended lament for the end of the affair – but then, every note she’s ever crooned has sounded thus.

The difference is this time she’s enlisted the services of producer and engineer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Modest Mouse, Kings Of Leon) and hired players as tasty as Joey Waronker, Smokey Hormel and Marc Ribot. Their touches are subtle – insistent bass figures, phased and rusty sounding guitars, growling keyboards – but more than enough to take her out of the roots museum and into a brave new world.

Maybe Jones is so easy to warm to because she never sounds like she’s trying too hard. There’s the paradox: even when she’s coughing her guts up in a lyric, she’ll deliver the lines with a beguiling levity (‘Chasing Pirates’ evokes Ricki Lee Jones in both title and mood). “Something bout the way he touched me,” she muses in ‘Even Though’, and if not for the past tense, you’d think all was bright and breezy in her kitchen. Stick with it and the shadows grow longer. “If I touched myself the way you touched me...” she reveries a few tracks later. We hear ya, sister. Elsewhere, ‘You’ve Ruined Me’ and ‘Tell Yer Mama’ are as wry and philosophical as any coroner’s report can be, ‘Light As A Feather’, a co-write with Ryan Adams, belies the title and emerges as a dark and dangerous blues, ‘Stuck’ is spooked and spectral, and ‘Young Blood’ (“Old ghosts go home”) is a hitched to a melody that’d make your heart stammer.

Not an easy record to write, I’ll wager, but it goes down like honey.

 

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