Newest Review: ... produced tracks that are all very much of a Jazz type genre. The album includes the very famous and popular "Sunrise" which has a... more
Home is where the heart lies
Feels Like Home - Norah Jones
Member Name: steerpyke
Feels Like Home - Norah Jones
Date: 19/09/06, updated on 19/09/06 (157 review reads)
Advantages: chilled out but mature songs, fantastic voice.
Disadvantages: very laid back
There is a familiar concept banded around in musical circles known as… "The difficult second album”. It is a phenomenon that rightly haunts many artists and there is good reason for it. Imagine you are a band or artist struggling round the circuit for years writing your material as your own whim and desire takes you, testing those songs in front of live audiences for years and then one day it happens, the contract is signed, the studio is booked and a successful album ensues. What could be better? Well very little, the problem arises a year later when the men in the suits call a meeting with you to say they want a follow up album that pushes you even further into the public eye, a few more singles like the last ones and a worthy follow up to the debut album. Now you have to replicate in a matter of months for this album what it was that you spent years over for the first album. Hence the concept of a difficult second album. Often in a rush to follow up the success of a debut, the second album can often be over thought, over worked and over played in an effort to distil the essence of the first and deliver it in larger portions, until the product sounds like a totally unrelated act. It is therefore pleasing when you venture tentatively into the uncharted waters of a follow up album and find that there is no excessive fussiness, no over exuberant aim to please and what you are being offered is an extension of the reasons that you bought the first album but with enough originality that is not just a derivative. Such an album is Norah Jones’, “Feels like Home.”
It should be particularly admired of her that instead of rising to the role of new found celebrity that she found thrust upon her after her debut album, “Come Away With Me” won eight Grammy Awards, she played down the fuss and got on with creating more of the cool, smooth vibes that got her noticed in the first place. Unlike the vast majority of female pop solo acts, and there are currently far too many, Jones is schooled in a less obvious tradition for a pop star, having studied for a degree in Jazz Piano at the university of North Texas. Whereas the likes of KT Tunstall and Vanessa Carlton seem to be influenced by the seventies wave of female artists, Jones music seems to have more in common with the likes of Billie Holiday. That said there are some subtle musical genres also thrown in to the mix this time round, most notably an obvious dash of country.
“Sunrise” opens with such a feel, laid back and spacey, but country none the less, but as Jones’ sultry voice joins in it gives it a unique and soulful edge. There is a light touch to the instrumentation on the song a touch, which characterises most of her work, and it is the spaces and the restraint of the delivery that makes the music all the more powerful. She and her band fully understand that it’s not about knowing when to play, it’s about knowing when not to play. Why play 10 notes when one will do, the art is knowing which one. And if the opening track is heading off slightly down the dusty back roads to Nashville, “What Am I to You” has a totally urban, late night back room soul venue feel, almost an Aretha Franklin style number. The drum kit is allowed out to play, the guitar is plugged in and a swelling Hammond organ threatens to take over in the background. Whilst her first album is steeped in the jazz and soul roots of her background, this album is more experimental in is sound, some might say unfocused but I prefer to think of it as a brave attempt to use a range of musical genres in the music. “Carnival Town” for example is an almost cabaret song, voice and piano pretty much take the lions share of the work with an occasional violin joining in to add atmosphere to this already highly emotive sound. “Creepin in” is pure country and just when you have got to thinking that this song would be right at home on a Dolly Parton album, the women in question pops up and the song plays through as a light weight duet between the Queen of Country and the Jack of All Trades.
There are no massive stand out tracks in the sense of songs that are going to be buzzing around your head for hours after listening to the CD (“Sunrise” being a possible exception) its not really that sort of album. It is a mix of delicately crafted light and shade and is content to create background mood rather that impose itself upon the listener. Many have criticised this album as being a bite of a pop-light version of the first album but both albums have their merits, both stand well together as a body of work and both just ooze with emotion. Its never going to be the album you put on getting read to go out on a Friday night, its more of a Sunday afternoon chill out, but then where is the harm in that, it is still a worthy addition to you record collection.
Summary: laid back vibes and a voice to die for.