Release Date: November 17, 2009
Record Label: Blue Note
Norah Jones is back with her fourth studio release, The Fall. For this album, Jones enlisted several songwriting collaborators, including Ryan Adams and Okkervil River’s Will Sheff, as well as her frequent partner Jesse Harris. With the help of producer Jacquire King, The Fall marks a departure from the sound Jones has crafted to sell more than thirty million albums worldwide over the past several years.
Norah Jones’ band for this album includes drummers Joey Waronker (Beck, R.E.M.) and James Gadson (Bill Withers), keyboardist James Poyser (Erykah Badu, Al Green), and guitarists Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello) and Smokey Hormel (Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer). With this line-up it’s not surprising that this album is musically solid.
“Chasing Pirates” is an interesting choice for the album’s first single. Meant to showcase Jones’ new sound, the track has a late 70’s or early 80’s pop sensibility which reminds me of Paul McCartney’s work during that time. Its pop sound is also really unlike the other songs on the album.
“Even Though” has catchy bass line with a Bob Marley and the Wailers feel. “Light as a Feather,” with it’s droning guitar, has a haunting progression, and a timeless mellow rock sound. “You’ve Ruined Me” is reminiscent of older country or bluesy feel, while “Back to Manhattan” is plucky and more jazzy like Jones’ earlier work.
“It’s Gonna Be” is one of the more aggressive songs Jones’ has tackled. It features strong and somewhat raunchy keys, but remains grounded with her unwavering vocals laid over it. Where a typical rock band might let the music go over the top and out of control, Jones draws a line and lets the music convey power while exhibiting restraint.
The album’s only real detraction is the treatment of the vocal production in some spots. It sounds like they were going for a late 50’s early 60’s reverb-laden vocal style, but Jones has the type of voice that this production serves to detract from her voice instead of enhance it.
Norah Jones’ foray into some new musical direction is not a drastic one. Her approach to creating well thought out music remains, as well as her gorgeous singing voice. It’s nice to hear the new direction on The Fall, but make no mistake that this music instantly recognizable as Norah Jones.
- “Chasing Pirates”
- “Even Though”
- “Light As a Feather”
- “Young Blood”
- “I Wouldn’t Need You”
- “It’s Gonna Be”
- “You’ve Ruined Me”
- “Back to Manhattan”
- “Tell Yer Mama”
- “Man of the Hour”