SIDEWALKING: Me And Mrs. Jones

Norah Jones, World Cafe Live, 1:25 PM by AMY SALIT

PREVIOUSLY: It’s another lazy Sunday morning coming down. You are awakened by the sunshine streaming through the open windows and the sound of the Brooklyn streets outside coming alive. Oddly, Danger Mouse is laying next to you, on his back, looking up at the ceiling, languidly strumming an elegiac guitar. He acts like you aren’t there. If you listen closely, you can hear a tinkling, Eno-esque piano arpeggio out of the corner of your ear. It sounds, and more importantly feels, like raindrops falling on your head. You roll over and there’s Norah Jones — beautiful, kind, classy incarnate Norah Jones — her little hands plinking the keys of a toy piano. Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands, you think to yourself, absently quoting e.e. cummings.

Oddly she seems to have cut her hair since you went to sleep last night, but she somehow looks even more beautiful shorn of her trademark long inky locks, which is odd because you always prefer long hair. Always. She gives you that pensive, other-shoe-about-to-drop look that always spells trouble or that unexpected change has already become operational. You hate change. She starts singing, “Good morning, my thoughts on leaving, are back on the table, I thought you should know,” like you’re in one of those musicals where all the dialogue is sung instead of spoken. It is at this moment that you are reminded why you hate musicals.

Welcome to beginning of Little Broken Hearts, which, despite the fact that it’s a down-the-middle collaboration with Danger Mouse, will be credited as the fifth album and latest album by Norah Jones, the holy madonna of modern MOR. It is easily her best album to date, it is also a fairly radical departure from everything album that precedes it, a heart-shaped-box sampler of poison pills and bloody valentines, pop noir shot through with magic and loss, spooky-sexy analog keyboard textures, echoey vocal washes and tremolo power chords, knotty Krautrockian bass lines, and the shimmering jangle of guitars. It is, in fact, such a complete break from her past that it may well cost her as many old fans as it gains her new ones. Not that she’s sweating it. She’s used to having millions of people who’s she’s never met making snap judgements about her, some in the name of love, and others not so much. Such is life in the business that is show. MORE