November 22, 2009 in Features

No ‘Snorah’ for Norah

 
Associated Press photo

Norah Jones
(Full-size photo)

Indie-rock producer Jacquire King had long been an admirer of Norah Jones’ smoky, seductive voice.

But the man behind acclaimed albums from Kings of Leon to Tom Waits never thought the two would ever inhabit the same musical orbit, let alone work together on an album.

Most people are familiar with Jones from her Grammy-winning, 10-time platinum debut CD, “Come Away with Me,” full of folky, jazz-tinged tunes more in line with the easy listening format.

But over the years, she’s collaborated with rappers, sung with country legends, performed in all-girl rock band and even made a country album with a side act.

So it wasn’t out of character for Jones to call on King to help her achieve her biggest sonic shift on her new CD, “The Fall.”

She ditches piano chords for gritty guitar riffs and delivers a darker, groove-based sound that King describes as “edgy” – a term not normally associated with the typically placid Jones style.

“It’s just honest music, and I think with a different approach that may be in some ways more accessible to fans that weren’t necessarily drawn in by the jazzier flavor,” says King. “It’s a bit more rocking.”

And that’s exactly the kind of shake-up Jones was looking to accomplish.

“I realized, I think, what I want to do is work with some different sounds,” the 30-year-old singer says. “I figured that the best way to do that was to try and step outside of my comfort zone a little bit, and work with some different musicians and a different producer. It just felt like a good time to do that.”

Jones took a hiatus following her previous album, 2007’s “Not Too Late,” and her movie debut in “My Blueberry Nights.”

It was the first time she had a chance to really be in one place for an extended period of time, and she took advantage of it: She got the dog she always wanted (a scruffy poodle), cut her long locks to a pixie cut, took pottery classes and even started going to church for the first time in years.

“The Fall” is also her first album without bassist Lee Alexander, who was not only one of her chief musical collaborators but her boyfriend. They broke up about a year ago.

“It’s my hope that we play music again, and I think his, too,” Jones says.

“But it’s good for people to try other things and do things separately in general. Even if we were still together, maybe this would have been a good time for me to do this anyway.”

The birthday bunch

Actor Robert Vaughn is 77. Comedian-director Terry Gilliam (Monty Python) is 69. Actor Tom Conti is 68. Singer Jesse Colin Young is 68. Guitarist-actor Steven Van Zandt is 59. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis is 51. Actress Mariel Hemingway is 48. Actress Scarlett Johannson is 25.


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