It’s been nearly 14 years since Norah Jones’ Blue Note debut, Come Away with Me, which earned her five Grammy awards at the 2003 ceremony. Since then, she’s released five more studio albums and a handful of other projects. Foreverly, her 2013 collaboration with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, features the duo harmonizing on a full collection of Everly Brothers tunes. (This was an album that I really wanted to like more than I actually did.) Then there was the collection …Featuring, a compilation of other artists’ songs that she was “featured” on or her own songs “featuring” other artists, ranging from Herbie Hancock to OutKast with every other type of artist in between.
On her latest studio album, Day Breaks, Jones returns to her expected brand of jazz with a set of perfectly lovely tunes. “Carry On,” the album’s first single, is delicate and hymn-like, consisting of organ and simple drums as well as Jones’ piano and gift-of-a-voice that certainly brings to mind another era. The music video is also incredibly sweet and heart-warming (who couldn’t use a bit of that right now?), featuring a still-in-love elderly couple slow dancing in their kitchen. With it’s brass instrumentation and harmonizing backing vocals, “Don’t Be Denied” offers a wonderful sense of warmth. Though many of her songs contain bits of country, blues, and pop music, Day Breaks still has plenty of straight-up jazz tunes to offer. “And Then There Was You” is a gorgeous jazz song with piano, bass, and quivering strings. For me, this cinematic song brings to mind Jones singing in a smoke-filled 1940’s jazz club, wearing a satin gown with her hair styled and makeup just-so. “Burn,” the opening track, brings a similar sensual feel and could very well be a James Bond theme. Though most tracks are good-to-excellent, a few just don’t really grab me, including the title track and “Peace.” 2016 has been a stressful year for a lot of people, but perhaps a crack at Norah Jones’ new album here may be just the thing to temporarily alleviate the pain.