The world went gaga over Norah Jones when she released her debut album, Come Away With Me, a decade ago. Her simple jazz-folk sound was a breath of fresh air amid the raunchy, commercial offerings of midriff-baring pop stars like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
Since her epic debut, the songstress has struggled to deliver the wow factor that initially enamoured audiences, earning her the nickname “Snorah Jones” along the way.
The release of her fifth studio album, however, sees Jones returning to her former glory. On Little Broken Hearts, Jones joins forces with popular producer Danger Mouse – a collaboration which sees her adding a pinch of indie to her signature jazzy feel.
On top of it, a rather different side of the wholesome singer is revealed. Little Broken Hearts exposes a brooding, revengeful, and emotionally loaded bouquet of songs penned after the recent crumbling of Jones’s relationship.
“Miriam”, a song addressed to her ex-boyfriend’s mistress, is the epitome of this new trend in Jones’s sound. A chilling vocal performance merges with sinister lyrics like “Miriam/ That’s such a pretty name/ I’m gonna say it when/ I make you cry”, creating the emotional masterpiece of the album.
Laced with melancholic piano lines, “She’s 22” is another song intended for Jones’s ex-boyfriend and his new, younger lover. She repeatedly asks, “Does she make you happy?” and unexpectedly ends her musing on the broken relationship with the pained but stoic lyric, “I’d like to see you happy.”
“All a Dream” oozes attitude with its reggae vibe and wispy, soulful vocals. It is devious yet elegant, eerie yet engaging – contradictions which make it all the more arresting.
Little Broken Hearts also sees Jones experimenting with a slightly more accelerated pace. Her dreamy crooning to a bouncy, synth-created riff in “Happy Pills” playfully tickles the fancy of pop-lovers but is hopefully as close as the singer will stray from her niche.
With a sound that is smooth and mellow, it’s easy to feel that Jones’s style has remained stagnant and uninspired. The beauty of Broken Little Hearts, however, lies in its simplicity and should be appreciated for just that.