Album Review: Norah Jones - Little Broken Hearts

22 May 2012 | 7:01 pm | Danielle O'Donohue

Jones sounds divine – a spectre of a woman bemoaning love gone awry.

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Not normally a Norah Jones fan, when Little Broken Hearts started wistfully drifting out of my headphones recently it was definitely the work of her incomparable producer Danger Mouse that initially pulled me in. Jones sounds divine – a spectre of a woman bemoaning love gone awry. Her control and restraint is a lesson to all the current over-singers out there; sometimes a little can go a long way.

And all around Jones' voice, Danger Mouse has gone to town, creating rich, dark melodies full of nuance and subtlety. It's a couple of bass notes pushed up in the mix here, the slice of strings there or the tired wheeze of a squeezebox.

The whole album is shrouded in graceful melancholy. Whereas Adele's heartbreak album features a woman tightly grasping onto her strength so she can move on, Jones' protagonist isn't quite as prepared to let go, even though she's doing her best to hold back the tears and put on a survivor's face. The album's highlight is Miriam, a bitter and twisted murder ballad that opens with the ominous, “Miriam, that's such a pretty name/I'm going to say it when I make you cry”.

On the surface this album sounds like the Norah Jones we're all used to but under the surface things aren't nearly as neat or as nice as they appear. This is the perfect girl in class losing her cool and showing cracks in the armour, and becoming far more interesting for it.

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