Norah Jones: Begin Again (Blue Note)

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My Heart is Full
Norah Jones: Begin Again (Blue Note)

This seven song compilation acts as a neat stop-gap and tour promotion (she's here this week, see below) and is a collection of material Jones has recorded with others.

She's been down this path previously with the Featuring Norah Jones album of 2010, but as with her every release there's always something sound, thoughtful and professional about it.

The opener here is the breathtakingly beautiful and soulful My Heart is Full where her voice is set against a spare electronica setting by Doveman (Thomas Bartlett). It is eerily evocative (her intakes of breath) and boasts a profound lyric which is both affirmative and chimes directly with these terrible times where hope for many is being burned in the charnel houses of hate and division.

By being pulled together from different sessions with various artists (Jeff Tweedy for the downbeat country style on the aurally spacious A Song with No Name and the lovely understated Wintertime, Bartlett again on Uh Oh) this is like a journey across genres: piano blues for the title track (with Brian Blade); a slice of her accomplished jazz balladry on It Was You; a muted blues for the slightly off-kilter Just a Little Bit with Blade and others . . .

Yet it all works as an integrated whole, courtesy of that soulful and flexible voice.

Norah Jones has rarely put a foot wrong since that extraordinary debut – hell, even her improbable Everly Brothers covers Foreverly album with Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day worked.

This wine-light collection of singles which doubtless went past most folks will feel comfortable late in the evening and of course at dinner parties where she was once a staple.

She's a class act who used the clout of that debut to carve a distinctive path and seemingly enjoy (Little Willies) and fulfill herself along the way.

Lovely stuff.

Norah Jones plays the Aotea Centre, Auckland April 23; TSB Arena, Wellington, April 24; Regent Theatre, Dunedin, April 26; Queenstown Events Centre, April 28; Christchurch Town Hall, April 29 

There are Norah Jones interviews, album and concert reviews at Elsewhere starting here.

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