Having won nine Grammy Awards is no low feat. In the past decade, Norah Jones has continued to be on top of her game by creating soulful music that is a treat to ears across the world. Being Billboard's 60th best -selling musical-artist of the noughties reveals how far this little girl from Brooklyn has gone. This month she releases a collection of 18 collaborations she has had with various artists and bands over her decade-spanning career. Norah Jones describes duets as being 'kind of like being a little kid and having a playdate'. Jones is right; duets have never been more fun.
The collection starts off very slowly as the few tracks ease in with subtlety. Love me is a soulful track where Norah strips down to her country roots, whilst boasting her piano skills brilliantly. However, beyond the musical talent also lies a sultry and enigmatic voice that captures the senses, as revealed in the Frank Loesser cover Baby it's Cold Outside. Other tracks such as Bull Rider and Loretta have a strong reminiscing feeling towards artists such as Dolly Parton (who Norah herself duets with in Creepin' In) and Reba McIntyre. Aligning herself with all the other country greats, it reveals the crux of Jones' musical sound in the past decade.
That doesn't mean she doesn't transgress either. We encounter a duet with the Foo Fighters on Virginia Moon; a track that feels like sailing along a river of melted chocolate. Sounding like it would appear in either a corny holiday resort or the soundtrack for a Sims game, it is very strange and unique to hear the Foo Fighters on a track like this. Similarly, we see other big commercial names present such as Outkast, who join Norah on Take off your Cool. As the name suggests, it's amazingly 'cool', pulling its swagger off against a beautifully crafted acoustic melody. Norah Jones may be modest in having all the tracks 'feature' her, but it feels like she has, through her connections with various artists, dragged them in the soulful and serene world of Norah Jones. Even the late Ray Charles, right before his death, appears on this collection to reveal Norah's diverse hold she has established on the music scene.
However one major problem with the collection is that it does tend to drudge along. Whilst Norah Jones is not the type of the artist to create an uptempo club track, it all feels a bit too slow. There is no denying that Jones is able to create some stunning tracks, such as the haunting The Best Part where she reveals in an understating tone that sometimes less is more. However, by the end of the LP, you want the tracks to break the monotony and be slightly more active. Tracks like Dear John and the final track Blue Bayou tend to stop the collection in its tracks as everything starts merging into a blur of uniformity. For an album that boasts a musical spectrum, it tends to fail on this. As far as mid-tempo goes, Life is Better, is a nice fresh change where we see Q-Tip's rap juxtapose with Norah's alternative sound, but this is sadly how far the experimentation goes.
There is no doubt that this collection not only is a great introduction to Norah Jones but it also establishes her as a credible artist of our generation. The diverse collaborations and artists present on this LP reveal the hugely successful decade that she has had and reminds us that we are far from hearing the end of her anytime soon. The collection does tend to plod along and thus can sometimes, shock horror, bore the new listener, but there is no denying of the talent and genius of Norah Jones. She shouldn't be so meek in 'featuring' herself on this collection; Norah Jones is simply one of a kind.
3.5 / 5
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