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Norah Jones - Little Broken Hearts (Album Review)

Thursday, 17 May 2012 Written by Helen Grant
Norah Jones - Little Broken Hearts (Album Review)

Like a swan's head craning awkwardly backwards revealing a gaping, bloody wound in it's neck, transformations don't come more dramatic than Norah Jones' new album, a captivating indie set produced and co-written by Danger Mouse.

ImageFilled with unrequited love and ashes of angst, 'Little Broken Hearts' is the fifth studio album by Jones, a long awaited two-fingered salute at heartache debuting top 5 in 14 countries and number 2 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.

A lip-biting, hair-flicking letter to the damaged swan who lives inside her; the collection is a musical journey of funky guitar grooves and sugar-fuelled synthesisers and strings, layered with an admirable depth of emotion and honesty.

The release, which Spin magazine calls “the second essential record of Norah Jones’ career,” sparked a series of profiles in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Associated Press and NPR Morning Edition and TV appearances on the CBS Late Show With David Letterman and ABC Good Morning America.

With compelling artwork inspired by the movie Mudhoney, this is a Norah that we haven't seen much of, a lyrical exploration of the unpleasant, revenge-driven aspects of heartbreak that is edgy, spiky and darker than anything attempted before.

In a refreshing twist on the usual lamentations of lost love, Jones, who plays jazz piano in her kitchen, sings with dynamic, gutsy, joyous bravado, egged on by a wild energy that makes dumping a guy sound like so much fun a cover story in Magnet excitedly declared that “she just might have made album of the year.”

A gastronomical feast marinated in whiskey and cigarette smoke; the singer's smouldering trademark vocals tell lullaby-esque, extraordinarily intimate, stories of lament with acrobatic, mesmerising gusto.

Highlights include the dreamy, angelic mimicry of the album’s opener 'Good Morning' in which Jones bewails that she is "folding her hand" and my favourite Norah track of all time 'Happy Pills' which includes the exquisite line: "How does it feel to be the one shut out? You broke all the rules, I won’t be a fool for you no more my dear.”

Commendable and compelling, this new offering affords an opportunity to witness a mass of bloody feathers evolve into a resurrection dance ahead of Jones' US and Canada tour this summer. Add low lighting and several glasses of neat Scotch and you have the ingredients for a smooch with angst as comforting as a big bowl of soup on a gloomy day.

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