MUSIC REVIEW: Norah Jones Page 2

0702_music_norjon2_200That first album was 2002's Come Away with Me. Perhaps you've heard of it; 30 million people purchased it. The 2004 follow-up had some mini-departures, but at the end of the day, you could still say it Feels Like Home. Now comes Not Too Late, and the question is: Has Jones finally passed us the salt?

At some other tables over the past year or so, she certainly spiced things up. She continued to moonlight in side bands like the Sloppy Joannes (can you imagine a sloppy Norah Jones record?), El Madmo (glamming it up in songs like "Vampire Guy" and "Head in a Vise"), and the Little Willies. That last outfit released a self-titled CD where Jones fairly howled through Willie Nelson's "I Gotta Get Drunk." And on Peeping Tom, a project by former Faith No More leader Mike Patton, she hissed the following: "There's one born every minute, sucker, sucker / So keep it in your pants, will ya, sucker, sucker / What makes you think you're my only lover? / The truth kinda hurts, don't it, motherf---er."

You don't say! But she did say. And now that Jones has put out her own new record, is she still, ahem, putting out?

Well, she's writing out: For the first time, Jones has written or co-written every song on an album. In the collaborations, her partner is longtime bassist/boyfriend Lee Alexander. And on the first track, "Wish I Could," they prove they can go beyond their usual abstract sentiments to get to the heart of a very specific matter: "Love in the time of war is not fair." Yes, this feels like Iraq, and Norah's tentative voice in a story of two women loving the same soldier fits the mood of this doomed waltz perfectly.