MUSIC REVIEW: Norah Jones Page 4

0702_music_norjon4_200That leaves songs like the soft "Rosie's Lullaby." The mellow "Broken." The melancholy "Wake Me Up." The girly, wispy, sweet, romantic "Little Room." And if those aren't all the things you are, Norah, then they remain most of the things you show us. "I don't know where this side of me came from," she admits to the Times, "this ballad-loving, quiet, simplistic, all that stuff. That's very much from me, and I'm not sure where I got that or why I held onto it so tightly." She's still holding onto it. Let go, Norah!

That said, Not Too Late's handful of excellent tracks are so super that they lend the entire album an air of maturity. Even the hint of danger from a gun (and feedback from a guitar) in "Not My Friend" is welcome. Meanwhile, audiophiles will relish the sonics. The producer here is Alexander, not Arif Mardin (who died last year), and even though the home-studio sound is similarly beautiful, it has a freshly organic texture that is especially kind to the subtleties of these primarily acoustic, stripped-down performances.

So, where should Jones go from here? Don't get me wrong: She doesn't need to become a big honky-tonk Willie. Nor does she need to go around spouting the MF-word on every other song. But it's heartening that this Halloween fan found a way to get the spirit of that holiday into "My Dear Country." And hell, the fabulously eerie painting of her on the back cover seems right out of Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. Here's hoping that, eventually, Norah Jones can find a way to fully marry her muse to her music.

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