Come Away With Me

Norah Jones

Blue Note Records, 2002

REVIEW BY: George Agnos

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/22/2002

Ever since the unexpected crossover success of jazz singer Diana Krall, record labels have been scrambling to find the next breakout singer for adults. Blue Note's entry in the sweepstakes is singer/pianist Norah Jones. There has been a big buzz on her and if she delivers the same kind of hit that Krall has, then Blue Note surely won't mind that Jones' debut CD, Come Away With Me, really isn't a jazz CD at all.

Oh sure, there is a definite Billie Holliday influence in Jones' vocals, and her band does add a little jazz to the mix, but there is just as much of a pop, folk, and even country influence to be heard. However, only jazz purists will complain about this. Anyone else who bought Krall's CD should be delighted by nbtc__dv_250 Come Away With Me.

All but three of the fourteen songs are originals. Most of the originals were written by either guitarist Jesse Harris or bassist Lee Alexander from Jones' band. I suspect there may have been a little "sibling" rivalry involved as both Harris and Alexander have written some top-notch tunes for this CD. Harris' songs tend to lean more toward the pop side and Alexander's more toward the folk side.

The opening cut and the first single, "Don't Know Why" is a lovely pop ballad that should be playing on adult contemporary stations if they have any sense. "Shoot The Moon" is another outstanding song in the same vein with some nice imagery in the lyrics. "Feelin' The Same Way" is another possible single because of its hooky chorus.

The rest of the songs range from the straight ahead folk of "Seven Days" to the lightly bluesy feeling of "Turn Me On" recalling Bonnie Raitt in a mellow mood, to the straight ahead jazz of "The Nearness Of You" (with Jones providing a solo performance of vocals and piano), to the country-western sounds of "Lonestar".

Despite the presence of a country flavor, ironically one of the jazzier songs on Come Away With Me is Jones' rendition of a classic country standard: Hank Williams' "Cold Cold Heart". It is a very interesting take on this song and shows off the versatility of Jones and her band.

Another fascinating piece is "I've Got To See You Again" which evokes a middle eastern flavor in the rhythm section despite being played totally on western instruments, much like Duke Ellington's "Caravan".

Sometimes, a CD where all the songs are ballads can be monotonous, but this is not true of Come Away With Me because all the different arrangements keep things fresh, and it helps that most of the songs are very strong. Come Away With Me is an impressive debut from this young singer. Here's hoping we hear more from her.

Rating: A-

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