Norah Jones: Day Breaks

Score: 6/10 – Snorah Jones

Four seemingly short years since the off-brand, Dangermouse-produced indie pop of Little Broken Hearts, and Norah Jones’ sixth LP feels about as familiar as pulling on an old pair of comfy shoes. To paraphrase her 2004 sophomore LP, this ‘feels like home’. The return to classic, piano-led jazz numbers has obviously been pretty straightforward for the diminutive Texan, as Day Breaks plays out with the kind of effortless refinement of a true songstress, and is easily on a par with her first two albums.
That effortlessness may also be one of the album’s weaknesses though, as the floaty jazzy numbers often have a tendency to wilt into the background. “The cares of the day/tend to slowly fade away” she drawls on “Peace” – one of a couple of covers that would literally fade away, were it not for the piercing Wayne Shorter sax solo kicking in two-thirds of the way through. The soft double-bass plucks and warbling clarinet of opener “Burn” are also somewhat lackluster, but then, blue-note jazz music really isn’t really designed to get you jigging around the room. To it’s credit, there are a couple of instances where the pace does pick up; most noticeably on the protest track “Flipside”, with it’s swelling pianos and breakneck drums, and also midway through on the title track – the muted bass strings and twinkly arpeggio chords making for the ‘edgiest’ thing on here.
Let’s be honest though, if you are a Norah Jones fan (40-something, own a fondue set, actually still buy CDs), you’ll be into Day Breaks no matter what. Expect this to be played at your parents’ dinner parties, and also in restaurants around Bali that are either a: over 20 years old or b: owned by Dutch people. Just don’t expect anyone to notice that it’s on.
Dan Ashcroft
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