norah jones

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Eleni Mandell: Miracle of Five (Shock)

Eleni Mandell: Miracle of Five (Shock)

I have no doubt Mandell will be dismissed in some circles as an alt.country Norah Jones -- but that would be a little lazy. What this album (Mandell's sixth) shares with Jones is an overall low lights mood and the sometimes seductive delivery, but Mandell is more like a torch singer in a hip Nashville club. However it is uneven and...

Various: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Tipitina's/Shock)

Various: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Tipitina's/Shock)

In the days after Hurricane Katrina it was believed that this great New Orleans r'n'b singer had been washed away. Fortunately he had been rescued although his home, like much of that wonderful city, had suffered extreme damage. The interesting thing about the rumours of his death was the sudden recognition of his talent in the wider...

Anoushka Shankar and Karsh Kale: Breathing Under Water (Manhattan/EMI)

Anoushka Shankar and Karsh Kale: Breathing Under Water (Manhattan/EMI)

This soundtrack suffers only major drawback in my book: the presence of Sting on the song Sea Dreamer. Is there a more irritating singer on the planet? (Yep, the yelper in Yes. The screacher in Supertramp . . . ) The rest of the album is a gentle infusion of sitar and global cultures, has Shankar's sister Norah Jones and her dad Ravi...

Marcio Faraco: Invento (Harmonia Mundi/Ode)

Marcio Faraco: Invento (Harmonia Mundi/Ode)

Okay, back in Brazil there are probably hundreds of guys just like Faraco, good looking singer-guitarists who can hush a busy cafe with their sensitive, feather-light songs and hypnotic, acoustic playing. But that should take nothing away from this gentle album which seemed to be everything I disliked -- slightly smug self-assurance, songs...

kd lang: Watershed (Nonesuch)

kd lang: Watershed (Nonesuch)

I read a curious review of this recently in which the writer said if you came to this expecting kd to return to her country roots you'd be very disapppointed. Why anyone would expect that of lang is beyond me: she has barely touched country music (the odd guest spot excepted) since the late 80s and has been consistently the practitioner of a...

Supreme Beings of Leisure: 11i (Elite)

Supreme Beings of Leisure: 11i (Elite)

So, whatever happened to chill-out music? About a decade ago the world was lousy with the stuff and you barely move for people raising martini glasses and trying to look like they'd stepped out of a 1960 Pan Am ad. But the cooler-than-thou crowd seemed to fade away quietly (into mortgages and kids maybe?) which is a pity because some of that...

Shelby Lynne: Just a Little Lovin' (Lost Highway)

Shelby Lynne: Just a Little Lovin' (Lost Highway)

Quite why anyone would get excited over the over-emoting 19-year old Adele's debut album when Shelby Lynne conveys more depth of ache in one line is beyond me. This exceptional album sees country singer Lynne go down a very difficult route: taking on songs made famous by the late Dusty Springfield (and offering one stunning original). And...

Melody Gardot: Worrisome Heart (Universal)

Melody Gardot: Worrisome Heart (Universal)

There is nothing a music journalist likes better than a musician with a backstory, it just makes for better copy. And 23-year old Gardot has a backstory. She spent a year in rehab. But not THAT kind. When she was 19 this New Jersey-born singer/pianist was knocked off her bike and suffered serious injuries. She couldn't sit, her...

Lizz Wright: The Orchard (Verve)

Lizz Wright: The Orchard (Verve)

We aren't short of soulful women singers right now, but few deliver with such blues gravitas and sensual authority as this Georgia-raised New Yorker whose two previous albums on Verve announced her as one of the rare ones. Most black (and a few white) women singers who sing with an ache are hailed as the new Billie Holiday (Corinne Bailey...

BETH ROWLEY INTERVIEWED (2008): From Bristol to the Big Time

BETH ROWLEY INTERVIEWED (2008): From Bristol to the Big Time

UK singer-songwriter Beth Rowley is one of those 10-year in the making overnight sensations. Her debut album Little Dreamer has won her wide acclaim -- “the next big thing", said the Independent, “destined for number one” weighed in the Sunday Times -- but because she has worked her way up from small pubs she seems very...

Cassandra Wilson: Loverly (Blue Note)

Cassandra Wilson: Loverly (Blue Note)

More so than her Blue Note labelmate Norah Jones, vocalist Wilson (along with violinist Regina Carter on Verve incidentally) has redefined the parameters of what we know as "jazz" in the 21st century.Jones may be a superb jazzy singer-songwriter with a country heart, but Wilson can turn her attention to material from all across the...

Anoushka Shankar: Rise (EMI)

Anoushka Shankar: Rise (EMI)

After a couple of straight (and slightly disappointing) sitar albums and an acclaimed live recording, this 2006 outing by the daughter of Ravi Shankar (one of them, another is Norah Jones) is widely considered her breakthrough.As with her father, she here acknowledged she lived in two worlds -- the traditional East and the contemporary West --...

Strange Fruit: Whole (Odd)

Strange Fruit: Whole (Odd)

A long time between drinks, as they say: more than a decade I think since this Auckland jazz group released an album - and that seems tardy or just plain careless. Their two previous outings - the self-titled debut in 94 and Eavesdropping in 97 - were very enjoyable affairs and in Barbara Cartwright they had a vocalist who was sultry and...

CLEO LAINE INTERVIEWED (2005): Ain't nothin' like a dame

CLEO LAINE INTERVIEWED (2005): Ain't nothin' like a dame

At 77 and with a career of almost six decades behind her, Cleo Laine admits she is slowing down a little. But not much. This year she is fully booked and that includes dates in Australia and New Zealand, as far as it is possible to get from her stately home in Buckinghamshire where she lives with her husband of 46 years, John Dankworth....

DIANA KRALL INTERVIEWED (2000): Blonde ambition

DIANA KRALL INTERVIEWED (2000): Blonde ambition

Grammy-gathering jazz pianist and chanteuse Diana Krall is shameless about her musical taste. She's about to go on stage in Philadelphia with Tony Bennett, but is confessing about the music she's listening to on the tour. Not unexpectedly, she rattles off a few by jazz artists such as John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley and Ella Fitzgerald,...

Jesse Harris: Watching the Sky (Inertia)

Jesse Harris: Watching the Sky (Inertia)

The news that Norah Jones has co-written a song with with Ryan Adams for her forthcoming album The Fall (due in November) is interesting: will he move in her direction or she to him? And which her, or which him? Many of the other tracks are Jones' own work (no bad thing) or with longtime partner Jesse Harris who here delivers up a polished,...

Norah Jones: The Fall (Blue Note/EMI)

Norah Jones: The Fall (Blue Note/EMI)

The smaller sales on Jones’ two albums  -- Feels Like Home (04) and Not Too Late (07) -- after the extraordinary figures for her 02 debut Come Away With Me (20 million and rising) were no reflection of any diminishing talent. Those follow-ups were subtle and layered outings, but on a casual listen sounded like more aural wallpaper...

k.d. lang: Recollection (Nonesuch)

k.d. lang: Recollection (Nonesuch)

Seeing kd lang -- "just a big boned gal from Canada" as she described herself to me an eon ago -- at the opening of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver singing a beautiful if slightly overlong Hallelujah reminded what an extraordinary talent she is. She effortlessly opened up her career from country music into big but soft-voiced...

Hollie Smith: Humour and the Misfortune of Others (EMI)

Hollie Smith: Humour and the Misfortune of Others (EMI)

This can be extremely brief given that Smith's story, travails and so on have been much canvassed. But what hasn't been said too often or too loudly is that while her previous album Long Player sold exceptionally well it came encumbered with two shortcomings which probably didn't go unnoticed by those at Manhattan/Blue Note with whom she parted...

THE FATE OF THE NU: Something old, new, borrowed and Blue Note

THE FATE OF THE NU: Something old, new, borrowed and Blue Note

Pity any movement that describes itself as “New . . .” or, worse, “the future”. By definition i is fated to an inevitable and humiliatingly early grave when the next “new” movement, or something else promising to be “the future”, arrives. Back in the late Sixties and early Seventies, new...

Catherine Russell: Inside This Heart of Mine (World Village/Ode)

Catherine Russell: Inside This Heart of Mine (World Village/Ode)

With an excellent ensemble of understated but very classy players, jazz-cum-r'n'b singer Russell takes a sophisticated journey down the byways of ol' New Orleans, finger-snapping Swing Era sounds, cool blues and other related styles on a warmly produced album which includes materiaal by Fats Waller, Harold Arlen, Duke Ellington, early r'n'b star...

RAVI SHANKAR (1920 - 2012): More Than One Lifetime

RAVI SHANKAR (1920 - 2012): More Than One Lifetime

My collection of schoolboy poetry which I would agonise over late at night, laboriously using my Scripto fountain pen and Radiant Blue ink, has long since vanished. Thank God. I’m sure it was full of adolescent anxieties -- one “poem” was about Oedipus, about whom I knew nothing other than I liked the name. But one piece...

Various Artists: . . . Featuring Norah Jones (Blue Note)

Various Artists: . . . Featuring Norah Jones (Blue Note)

Those who dismiss Norah Jones as some kind of aural wallpaper clearly aren't listening carefully enough. Her albums have been quietly progressive as they step deftly betwen lounge jazz and alt.country -- and the lady constantly defies expectation. Not the least by putting herself about a bit, in a professional way. This 18 track album...

Amos Lee: Mission Bell (Blue Note)

Amos Lee: Mission Bell (Blue Note)

Singer-songwriter Lee's name has been inextricably linked with that of Norah Jones who heard his debut EP and had him open for her. Signed to her label Blue Note by president Bruce Lundvall (who signed him before the Jones connection), Jones' partner and bassist Lee Alexander produced his debut album. He's firmly in that lineage of crafted...

BLUE NOTE'S BRUCE LUNDVALL INTERVIEWED (2005). Riding high on a Blue Note

BLUE NOTE'S BRUCE LUNDVALL INTERVIEWED (2005). Riding high on a Blue Note

The most powerful man in jazz sits in his office six floors above Fifth Avenue, New York. He's smiling. Business is good. Bruce Lundvall -- who began his career at Columbia Records with a hip young Miles Davis -- has been heading the famous Blue Note jazz label for 20 years. And recently business just got better. Why? In a word,...

THE VERVE LABEL: Fifty-plus years, and what's the forecast?

THE VERVE LABEL: Fifty-plus years, and what's the forecast?

Sometimes, if we are lucky we can be at historic events. But we might not realise it until later. If a historic event is the Foo Fighters first recording as a band -- and remember Dave Grohl did the band's debut album himself -- then I can immodestly claim to have been there. It was in a BBC studio in London, Pat Smear lit one after...

Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis and Norah Jones: Here We Go Again (Blue Note)

Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis and Norah Jones: Here We Go Again (Blue Note)

This cross-generational/cross-genre superstar triumvirate isn't as unusual as it appears on paper: There are two or fewer degrees of separation between the protagonists. Jones has toured and performed with Nelson (here); Willie and Waylon got together for their less-than-thrilling Two Men with the Blues project (CD/DVD); and Jones began life...

The Little Willies: Lou Reed (2005)

The Little Willies: Lou Reed (2005)

The idea of the improbable is always enjoyable. It is the basis of Dada and Surrealism, not to mention a few good dreams and a whole lot of Monty Python-type humour. And so you can guess when this band -- Norah Jones, Lee Alexander, Richard Julian and others -- got together to indulge their love of country and alt.country music by playing...

HOLLIE SMITH INTERVIEWED (2011): Are friends electronica?

HOLLIE SMITH INTERVIEWED (2011): Are friends electronica?

In Berlin it's 8.15am so a yawning Hollie Smith is forgivably vague about where her friends Electric Wire Hustle played last night. And she is also on holiday, despite having a new album Band of Brothers Vol 1 – with Mara TK of EWH – released back home. “I did talk last year of moving over here for a lot longer,”...

WILLIE NELSON INTERVIEWED 1998: The hard working lazy man

WILLIE NELSON INTERVIEWED 1998: The hard working lazy man

There’s not a lot you can say about the latest Willie Nelson album Teatro. Produced by Daniel Lanois, it’s Nelson’s second for the Island label after the critically acclaimed Spirit, has a band which includes Emmylou Harris and Luscious Jackson drummer Tony Mangurian, and is little more -- or less -- than another addition to...

NORAH JONES INTERVIEWED (2002 and 2003) AND ALBUM REVIEWS: Great Expectations -- and then some

NORAH JONES INTERVIEWED (2002 and 2003) AND ALBUM REVIEWS: Great Expectations -- and then some

Somebody up there obviously likes Norah Jones and blessed her with extraordinary good looks. Those are her cheekbones and ruby lips which have been replicated in their thousands and grace the cover of her album Come Away With Me.  And just in case her looks alone weren't enough to draw attention to this 22-year-old singer/pianist, that...

WILLIE NELSON ALBUM REVIEWS 2000 - 2005: What a long strange trip

WILLIE NELSON ALBUM REVIEWS 2000 - 2005: What a long strange trip

He smoked a joint on the roof of the White House, sang with Julio Iglesias and on We Are The World, and he's still here. And still great -- sometimes. Willie Nelson, much like Dean Martin, has an effortless approach to life -- and recording. He could, as they say, sing a telephone directory and make it sound intersting. But latterly it is...

ANOUSHKA SHANKAR INTERVIEWED (2008): Never in the shadow

ANOUSHKA SHANKAR INTERVIEWED (2008): Never in the shadow

As two Lennons and any number of Marleys might tell you, it isn’t easy carrying the name of a famous musician father, especially if you want a career in the business yourself. Certainly doors may open that otherwise wouldn’t -- but because of that critics and the public often treat your career with some scepticism, you have to...

Ravi Shankar, Improvisations (1962)

Ravi Shankar, Improvisations (1962)

George Harrison quite correctly referred to the sitar master Pandit Ravi Shankar as "the godfather of world music" -- and Shankar was creating and giving his blessing to cross-cultural fusions and experiments long before the phrase "world music" was even thought of. There are of course many dozens of Shankar albums in the...

The Wood Brothers: Ways Not To Lose (Blue Note/EMI)

The Wood Brothers: Ways Not To Lose (Blue Note/EMI)

The trio Medeski, Martin & Wood have been one of the most innovative and consistently interesting jazz (and beyond) bands of the past decade or so. But here upright bassist/singer from the band Chris Wood teams up with his singing/guitar playing brother Oliver (a dab hand on slide among other things) for an album of lowkey acoustic charm...

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