by Stamish Malcuss
Norah Jones seemingly came out of nowhere in 2002 with Come Away With Me, her downhome appeal was an instantaneous hit with well-crafted tunes that featured what would be her longtime collaborator Jesse Harris. Together, they wrote a string of hits together that became instant best-sellers. Jones was born Geethali Norah Jones Shankar, the daughter of concert producer Sue Jones and Indian musician Ravi Shankar. Many success and awards later, her discography continues to grow, but one thing remains the same is her loyalty to Blue Note as a label, with Lundvall originally making a wise decision with a young shy songstress who had jazz in her heart, but the makings of a pop star. Her latest endeavor is a departure from Come Away With Me and is aptly titled Begin Again. This is Jones seventh album. With each new release Jones continues to expand her breadth as an artist.
“My Heart Is Full” kicks off Begin Again on a mellow note. With a steady bass drum and sustained keyboard notes, Jones sings her haunting melody with an essence of beauty that is her signature. With sparse instrumentation, Jones’ melodious and hypnotic singing style is really the focus. Her tone and relaxed vocal presence are beautiful, and the lyrics pull you in, you will never notice the sparse instrumentation surrounding as this chanteuse pulls your attention to her voice and takes you on a musical journey worth every moment.
“It Was You” features a full band and the sensual side of Jones’ singing style. Again, her phrasing is the key to pulling you into her musical story. She sings with a relaxed slightly behind the beat pulse and soft moving ornaments to the melody that are highly effective in creating a sense of drama and suspense. The drums have a pop sound to them, which brings this into a jazz infused, R&B, and pop sensibility that is entertaining. Also, Jones shows a little more of her upper register in portions of this track, which is just a strong and beautiful as her sensual lower register.
Begin Again at heart is all you love about Norah Jones, an honesty of songwriting and the conveyance of that honesty with a soulful honey hued voice. In a national television show she recently espoused wanting a deeper or rougher voice at times, age certainly is bringing those qualities forth, but it is also the innocence of her voice, mixed with the vixen at heart that continues to garner her timeless appeal. A highly recommended listen.