Norah Jones burst onto the music scene a few years ago with Come Away with Me, her debut. Her deep, sultry voice and jazzy soft pop sound set her apart from the other Pianist/Singers of the time. Her sound was more similar to jazz musicians attempting pop, such as a few Diana Krall and Harry Connick Jr. records of the 90s and 2000s. Come Away with Me was a runaway success, and Jones followed it up with two more albums, Feels Like Home and Not Too Late. On those albums she strayed into easy listening and country territory but retained her distinctive light jazz sound.
The Fall was marketed as Norah’s “guitar” album. It was the first album recorded without her usual band. To me, that was troubling, it seemed like it would take away what set Jones apart from her contemporaries.
But the album is a surprising success. This is the strongest set of songs Jones has had since her debut. The album’s sound is still instantly recognizable as Norah’s. The songs are still soulful and lazily catchy.
A few songs are at a faster tempo and poppier than Norah’s usual style. But the intimate, small band feel is still there. None of these songs are going to be mistaken for an Alicia Keys or Regina Spektor anthem.
This is Norah’s best and most consistent album since her debut. It has a running theme of moving on after a breakup. In some songs Norah is reminiscing, in some she is moving on, and in some she is replacing her ex with a dog’s company. That could make for trite album, but a lot of it is in the execution. There are diary style lyrics that are leavened by Norah’s humor or intensified by her voice. There are metaphors like: “We’re light as a feather/ Heavy as the weather/ If it was raining stone.” That would sound ridiculous sung by most singers but it seems appropriately heartbreaking when Norah sings it.
Norah Jones fans need not fear; as I have already said this is one of Norah’s best albums. This album may gain her more fans, as it is a fine example of the singer-songwriter style. This album proves that Jones still has room to grow as an artist, and that she can still make excellent music as she does.