Norah Jones (EMI Blue Note)
Norah Jones ditches her old band, and most of her trademark piano playing, for her latest release "The Fall."
Jones sounds more confident and stretches her songwriting muscle on her fourth solo record and the second in a row where she wrote or co-wrote all of the songs.
"The Fall" is more of an evolution rather than a wholesale abandonment of her style. Sure, the piano is largely absent, but Jones' guitar playing style shows the influence of her keyboarding. It's simple, restrained but still melodic.
Producer Jacquire King, who's new to Jones and had previously produced Tom Waits' "Mule Variations," deserves some credit for the shift in style. It's a subtle one that Jones fans likely will embrace, but the growth from her breakout 2002 debut "Come Away With Me" is clear.
Jones penned eight of the 13 songs alone and shares credit with others on the remaining five, including Ryan Adams on "Light as a Feather." Her continued growth as a writer, not just as singer, brings another exciting dimension to "The Fall."
Check out this track: "Chasing Pirates," the first single and the record's opener, exemplifies Jones' new direction. Jones uses her vocals, and a catchy rhythm-based hook, to lure the listener in before anyone can realize just how unlike expectations it really sounds.