Norah Jones

Not Too Late
(Blue Note)

Norah Jones may have begun her career as the leader of the new-jazz movement, but subsequent releases have proven the chanteuse equally — if not more — in tune with '70s singer-songwriter fare, '60s R&B, and contemporary Americana. Her latest, Not Too Late, finds these influences converging to produce an aura of introspection and heartbreak. Not Too Late may, in fact, be Jones' most musically varied work to date, moving easily among these styles. Jones' first triumph is the toe-tappin' bluesy swagger "Sinkin' Soon." A soft melody laced with feedback dominates the elemental "Not My Friend," while a Southern accent slips through on the lyrically dissatisfying "Broken." The latter song provides a marked shift in Not Too Late, with Jones drawing on her experience with supergroup Little Willies as inspiration. Songs such as "Wake Me Up," "Be My Somebody," and "Little Room" are easily more country than pop. The suicidal tale "Rosie's Lullaby" may well be Jones' pièce de résistance as a songwriter, with its haunting refrain and lyrics of feminine desperation. In spite of seemingly incongruous sounds and some puerile lyrical turns, Not Too Late is guaranteed to engage new listeners and old fans alike.

 
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