Album: Norah Jones

Not Too Late, BLUE NOTE
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The Independent Culture

Norah Jones's first two albums sold some 17 million and 10 million copies respectively, the kind of diminishing returns that even the flintiest of record company accountants can accept. Whether that level can be sustained with Not Too Late remains to be seen, but the subtle changes to her style here seem like a shrewd attempt to expand artistically without disturbing her core audience, most of whom will still be in the long, deep sleep triggered by her previous albums, anyway. That lullaby effect continues here - there's even a song called "Rosie's Lullaby" - but it's what's happening at the fringes of the record that's most interesting: things like the unusually intimate string arrangement created by The Kronos Quartet for "Broken", and the New Orleans rumba-rock undercarriage to "Be My Somebody", and its snaking slide-guitar break with the faintest of scorched edges. There are still plenty of languid cabaret shuffles, piano ballads and neutered blues, but few are as effective as "Sinkin' Soon", where Norah's joined by the simpatico M Ward on a stalking cakewalk of banjo, piano and sleazy muted trumpet.

DOWNLOAD THIS: "Sinkin' Soon", "Be My Somebody", "Broken"

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