Norah Jones - The Fall

2009-11-24 16:30
The Fall

Nope. She's just sick of reading that "doe-eyed" daughter of Ravi Shankar sales pitch. She's tired of playing the coquettish lounge pop crooner. She's 30, single again and ready to explore some real emotions. Sure, she's still happy to play with James Poyson's throbbing Wurlitzer pulse on laid back opening love letter "Chasing Pirates". But that emotionally airbrushed piano balladeer of Come Away With Me and Feels Like Home is largely absent here.

On "Waiting" Norah unmaps the co-dependent core of her need to wait up for her cheating lover to come back home as the stars "fade into the cracks of dawn". On "Back to Manhattan" she allows us to eavesdrop into a quasi-autobiographical parable about her break-up with boyfriend-bassist Lee Alexander over an aptly smouldering funk groove. She also segues between alienation, fear and self-loathing on the minimalist piano 'n guitar picked ballad beauty of "December" to the justified resentment of the Springsteen styled slow burner "Young Blood" where she thanks her ex-lover's parents "for raising [him] so damn wrong". Later, she gives her beau a righteously sassy southern belle's middle fingered salute with "Tell Yer Mama".

Crikey. So, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? Tempting, but the sincerity with which Norah opens her soul insists that her feelings should never be reduced to some kind of masturbatory prop for men to make sense of the enigma of her feminine desire.

Sure, some of the scenarios are more Sex and the City than Simone De Beauvoir's Second Sex.  For instance, we get a wretched snapshot of a woman drowning her sorrows on "Stuck", where she details the emotional fall out of a drunken night of pub crawling, while duelling with some incendiary guitar from downtown hipster Marc Ribot.

But these are all psychologically complex scenarios sketched with real heartbreak, disappointment and loss, not the saccharine lovelorn pop laments of a woman left in the lurch by her 'Mr. Big'. Hell, Norah says as much on "It's Gonna Be", railing against the banality of TV soapies and talk shows by riding a soulfully funky Wurlitzer fusion last worn by Stevie Wonder on "Higher Ground".

By the time she channels Billie Holiday's blues on closer "Man Of The Hour" which tongue-in-cheekily has her choosing her pet Saint Bernard over "a vegan and a pothead", you realise that at 30, the real Norah Jones has finally arrived.

She's sold an incredible 35 million copies of her first three albums. She's bagged a closet full of Grammy awards with her piano-kissed adult contemporary jazzy pop serenades. So who the hell does Norah Jones think she is making a guitar-fuelled, red hot and bloody soul record about being a real woman? Aretha Franklin?

What to read next: Kalahari

Jon 2009/11/25 11:15 AM
@ Author - "Norah unmaps the co-dependent core..."? "eavesdrop into a quasi-autobiographical parable..."? And countless others. This is the most pretentious piece of witing I have seen in years. Get a life, just enjoy the music!
kim 2009/11/25 7:08 PM
i think its great. it's poetry like nora's music. why be unimaginative?
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.