Music Review: 'Day Breaks,' Norah Jones

Oct 10, 2016
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Norah Jones has returned to jazz in her new album.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DAY BREAKS")

NORAH JONES: (Singing) Day breaks in your head and you're finally alone.

SHAPIRO: That's the title track, "Day Breaks." It's the sixth studio album for the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and pianist. Since her debut in 2002 became a massive hit, Norah Jones has experimented with country and electronic pop. Reviewer Tom Moon says this new release is not only a return to jazz. It's also a return to nuance.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLEURETTE AFRICAINE - AFRICAN FLOWER")

JONES: (Humming).

TOM MOON, BYLINE: Some singers arrive with sirens blaring, demanding attention. Others take their sweet time - that's Norah Jones. She never actually sings on this track. She hums the entire melody in a serene, leisurely confiding way, leaving space for conversation with saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLEURETTE AFRICAINE - AFRICAN FLOWER")

JONES: (Humming).

MOON: The original songs Norah Jones wrote for this album are supremely moody creations, thick with atmosphere. Some of them utilize jazz harmony, most happily sidestep jazz convention. This one features Jones on piano, electric piano and organ, and bubbles with the energy of Detroit-era Motown.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLIPSIDE")

JONES: (Singing) You saw your reflection all over the news. Your temperature's well past a hundred and two. Put the guns away, or we're all going to lose. Stand by or take flight. Eat or throw your piece pie.

MOON: And there are several hymn-like like pieces that evoke legendary soul records.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TRAGEDY")

JONES: (Singing) Babies and a patient wife. They just weren't enough to keep him high. So he gave them up just to fill his cup. Every sip would make him feel alive. No bones in his body were dry. It's a tragedy.

MOON: There's fantastic openness to this music. No matter what the groove is, you can hear everyone involved treading lightly, seeking nuance, using small gestures to enhance the spells cast by this uncommonly sultry voice. In 2002, Norah Jones invited listeners to come away with her. This album sounds like one of the places she always wanted to visit.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SHAPIRO: The latest from Norah Jones is called "Day Breaks." Our reviewer is Tom Moon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PEACE")

JONES: (Singing) When you find peace of mind, leave your worries behind. Don't say that it can't be done. With a new point of view, life's true meaning comes to you. And the freedom you seek is won. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.