Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Soft, Without Distinction: Come Away With Me Is The Surprise Disappointment Of Norah Jones!

The Good: Great vocals, Competent piano performances
The Bad: Average lyrics, Repetitive sound, Lack of passion
The Basics: After years of waiting, I finally listened to Come Away With Me and was impressed by Norah Jones's vocals, if not her lyrics or sleepy musical accompaniment.

When I first heard Norah Jones' song "Don't Know Why" it was three months after I had been in Media Play, talking with an associate about wanting to hear new artists. He recommended Come Away With Me by Norah Jones which was on sale that week for $6.00. $6.00! He said it was the best six dollars I would ever spend on a new talent. I hemmed and hawed and bought something else that day instead. When I heard "Don't Know Why" on the radio, sounding so different from anything else on the pop-rock stations at the time, I kicked myself.

I felt like I had missed a major deal and figured at some point I would end up paying much more to get the same material. But, I waited. The album did not chart a second single, despite the Grammies it won. So, I waited. It was just recently I picked up Come Away With Me to give it a spin. The bottomline would have to be that I'm ultimately glad I did not spend the $6.00 then or the more later.

This is not to say Come Away With Me is not a good album. It is. Norah Jones has a great voice. She has a soft, smoky, sound that is easy on the ears and creates a dreamy quality that is pleasant to listen to time and again. And while the lyrics she sings are very simple ("I waited 'til I saw the sun / I don't know why I didn't come / I left you by the house of fun / I don't know why I didn't come . . .") they are easy to listen to. There's a dreamy singsong quality that evokes a smoky club late at night in Norah Jones' music.

The majority of the songs are simply Jones at her piano, creating a unified sound throughout the album. Jones is talented and competent both vocally and at the piano, even if neither the instrumental arrangements nor the vocals are terribly complicated.

And therein lies the rub of Come Away With Me. There is a pop-jazz sound on all fourteen tracks that gives the album a cohesive quality that is easy to listen to. But it is more hypnotic than intriguing, sleepy as opposed to sexy, inspiring narcolepsy more than slow dancing. The sound is different from anything in the pop-rock sphere, but it is probably passe for the jazz sphere.

The album is short, as well. While there are fourteen tracks, the average length is three minutes, making for a short listening experience. And because the songs drift from one track to another with such a similar vocal and musical sound, there is little to say as one somnambulistically journeys through this listening experience.

It's a shame to write such a review, but the truth is the album is best for falling asleep to. There is nothing as dynamic on Come Away With Me as any of Fiona Apple's songs and Apple at least writes most of her own material. Norah Jones's debut has fourteen tracks, of which she is the author or co-author of only three. So while this album reveals potential - certainly in voice - it does not live up to all it could be.

The best song is Come Away With Me, which Norah Jones wrote, the weakest track is "Painter Song," mostly because by the time the listener gets to the track, we've already heard so many similar sleepy tracks that it just feels old.

For other works by Norah Jones (or similar artists), please visit my reviews of:
The Fall
Feels Like Home
Introducing . . . Joss Stone - Joss Stone


For other music reviews, be sure to check out my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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