Norah Jones review, Pick Me Up Off the Floor: One of the most intriguing records she’s released in years

Collection of songs is cohesive but draws on an inspired and eclectic range of influences

Roisin O'Connor
Thursday 07 May 2020 13:20
Norah Jones is far more daring than most would believe
Norah Jones is far more daring than most would believe

Think of Norah Jones and what springs to to mind is a smoky, mellifluous voice that’s soundtracked a million dinner parties. But the singer-songwriter, who shot to fame with her Diamond certified 2002 debut Come Away with Me, is actually far more interesting – and daring – than her lounge-jazz reputation would have you believe. Having collaborated with Herbie Hancock on his Grammy-winning album River: The Joni Letters, she then worked with as diverse a bunch as Foo Fighters, Outkast, and Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong.

Pick Me Up Off the Floor – Jones’s first LP since 2016’s Day Breaks – isn’t a traditional record. Rather, it’s a collection of songs left over from sessions with collaborators such as producer Thomas Bartlett (St Vincent), and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, some of which ended up on last year’s singles collection, Begin Again.

The build of “I’m Alive”, an understated tribute to the resilience of women, is bright with Jones’ signature, gospel-influenced piano rolls. Her voice is as supple as ever, and on “How I Weep” it drifts like fog over water, accompanied by a dignified cello and chirpy plucks of the violin.

While most of these songs stay true to Jones’s jazz leanings, others, such as the haunting “Were You Watching?”, employ Celtic fiddles and hip-hop percussion; “Flame Twin” flirts with funk over twangs of electric guitar and a stuttery riff on the hi-hat. It’s fortunate that Jones chose to hold on to these songs – they form one of the most intriguing records she’s released in years.

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