Norah Jones steps outside of her comfort zone on her newest album, released November 16th, “…Featuring Norah Jones”. Jones doesn’t let any kind of genre lines hold her back on “Featuring”, playing across country, hip hop, jazz and more, showing the broad spectrum that she can bring her bluesy style to.
Rather than releasing the standard greatest hits compilation album, Jones made the right decision to put together her favorite collaborations from the last ten years. Her radio hits don’t capture her versatility like this album can, and two heads are better than one; in each song the influence of the collaborating artists is evident. With guests from Willie Nelson to Outkast, she even managed to find a good flow for the album, which is a great straight-through listen.
Album standouts include; Charlie Hunter’s “More Than This” featuring Jones, a light loungy tune with the vibes of a dreamy night on the beach, and “Virginia Moon” a surprisingly smooth and soft Grohl/Jones duet with the Foo Fighters.
While more of the songs on the album lean towards country or jazz, the contributions of Q-Tip, Talib Kweli, and Andre 3000 of Outkast bring some edge. Talib is an undeniably outstanding lyricist and lays it down proper with Norah making her appearance in the chorus. “Take Off Your Cool” off of Outkast’s “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” album might sound familiar, but the naked acoustic guitar sound is a side of Andre listeners don’t get to see very much.
My favorite track on the album is “The Best Part” with El Madmo, Jones’s former band. The spooky, sexy groove is one of the band’s more serious songs, and it conveys a lot of emotion in the singing and guitar melody. Many of the members of El Madmo play in Norah’s band, yet when they are playing as El Madmo the sound is dark and different.
To top it off, a refreshingly distinct rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Willie Nelson will get you feeling festive, rather than annoyed (as Christmas music has a tendency to do as the season wears on).
Acknowledging the important of collaboration and showcasing her talent as a session musician, Norah has put together a great record for her established fans and new listeners (and what is there to lose, the CD is only $10). Not only is “Featuring” an excellent representation of Jones’s talent, it shows a different side of both her and her featured musicians.
By Meghan Bendert>
1. Love Me – The Little Willies
2. Virginia Moon – The Foo Fighters featuring Norah Jones
3. Turn Them – Sean Bones featuring Norah Jones
4. Baby It’s Cold Outside – Willie Nelson featuring Norah Jones
5. Bull Rider – Norah Jones and Sasha Dobson
6. Ruler Of My Heart – Dirty Dozen Brass Band featuring Norah Jones
7. The Best Part – El Madmo
8. Take Off Your Cool – OutKast featuring Norah Jones
9. Life Is Better – Q-Tip featuring Norah Jones
10. Soon The New Day – Talib Kweli featuring Norah Jones
11. Little Lou, Prophet Jack, Ugly John – Belle & Sebastian featuring Norah Jones
12. Here We Go Again – Ray Charles featuring Norah Jones
13. Loretta – Norah Jones featuring Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
14. Dear John – Ryan Adams featuring Norah Jones
15. Creepin’ In – Norah Jones featuring Dolly Parton
16. Court & Spark – Herbie Hancock featuring Norah Jones
17. More Than This – Charlie Hunter featuring Norah Jones
18. Blue Bayou – Norah Jones featuring M. Ward