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Design By Humans
Published On: Mon, May 14th, 2012

Norah Jones: Little Broken Hearts

Norah Jones
Little Broken Hearts
(BLUE NOTE)

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Norah Jones’ fifth studio release, Little Broken Hearts, accomplishes a nearly impossible feat– she matures lyrically, departs from her typical piano-heavy ballads, experiments with a heavier electric sound… and still manages to sound JUST like Norah Jones.

Let me explain.

You know when you fall in love with an artist and you just can’t seem to get enough of them? You unearth every song, every live performance, every grainy youtube video you can get your hot little hands on and play them over and over and over until even your neighbors know your favorites? Until that day comes. The day when said artist FINALLY releases another album. But much to your chagrin the magic is gone. The charm has been lost. Either the songs don’t have “it” or the band is trying too hard or maybe they’re just different. No matter what the problem is… you yearn for the artist you thought you knew.

Fear not my friends, Norah does no such thing.

LBH, produced by Danger Mouse, was initially a top secret recording session between the two, which took place approximately three years ago. The album remained unfinished until last summer when the duo reunited to take care of business. Norah added several freshly penned tracks a la Taylor Swift–harsh break-up songs, which are full of vengeance and venom that we’re not used to hearing from Ms. Jones. “Miriam,” for instance, is a dark little ditty written for her ex’s mistress. Despite the melodic reprise and soothing strings, it’s lines like “You know you’ve done me wrong/I’m gonna smile when I take your life” that make you realize this is a very different Norah.

The album’s first single, “Happy Pills,” commits a similar deception. The super catchy melody is a stark contrast to the painfully honest lyrics. “Out on the Road” and ”Say Goodbye” follow suit.

“Take It Back” is a perfect embodiment of this entire record. It starts with a delicate piano-based intro but soon fades into a bass-heavy, whimsical, fuzzed-out chorus like nothing we’ve heard from her before. Despite this leap, no part of it is forced. The honesty is exactly what makes this effort so strong. Even though Little Broken Hearts is a vast departure from her status quo, you can easily find the songstress you know and love in every one of these songs–and enjoy the new version of herself that she’s letting shine through.

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Norah Jones: Little Broken Hearts