Norah Jones

Is it too much,” Lucinda Williams once asked, “to demand … cool quiet and time to think?” Anyone who listens to much contemporary pop radio can only assume that, for most listeners, it really is too much to ask. Thank goodness for Norah Jones, whose much-celebrated 2002 debut, Come Away With Me, argued for other options. Radio’s reliance on noisy, all-fast-all-loud-all-the-time arrangements isn’t just tedious; it becomes essentially anti-human, placing too many emotions and the means for expressing them out of bounds. Now, Jones’ follow-up, Feels Like Home, has already spent time atop the pop charts, proving again that Lucinda isn’t alone in her appreciation of music that lets you hear yourself think. “Don’t Miss You at All” (a Duke Ellington melody to which Jones has added lines like As I sit and watch the snow fallin’ down) comes off so slow and unadorned, it’s as if you could build a life for yourself in the spaces between each note. Most of the album continues at the same indolent pace, whispering sweet words spoken like a melody or gently quizzing a lover What am I to you? Just once, on a charming, bluegrassy duet with Dolly Parton, Jones floors it all the way to … midtempo! Otherwise, it’s just her voice, her piano-led rhythm section and a roll call of color instruments — mandolin, organ, accordion, trumpet — played gently. If every record on the radio were this whispered and oh-so-slow, Jones would only be replacing one extreme with another. But for now, the quiet is nice.

Categories: Music