Norah Jones: Come Away With Me

Norah Jones: Come Away With Me

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Norah Jones

Album: Come Away With Me
Label: Blue Note

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In the struggle to make herself heard, 22-year-old singer and pianist Norah Jones has two powerful weapons at her disposal: youth and an interesting history. (She hails from Texas, never a hotbed of jazz singers, and has a famous father, sitar master Ravi Shankar.) But her most potent weapon is her debut album, Come Away With Me. A showcase for Jones' remarkable voice, the disc captures a singer whose rare instinct for interpretation always serves the song, rather than working against it. The concept of divahood seems as alien to her as a wrong note, and even such seemingly mismatched material as Hank Williams' "Cold Cold Heart" sounds like a natural fit. Most of Come Away With Me's tracks were written or co-written by Jones or band members Jesse Harris and Lee Alexander, proving that she's entirely capable of generating her own material, or at least choosing those who can. Her good taste extends to her choice of supporting players, and having Arif Mardin on board as producer doesn't hurt, either. A veteran of some of Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield's best sessions, Mardin knows how to frame a female voice sympathetically, and here he lets the spare arrangements drift in the background. When there's nothing to hide, why not let the singer be the show? This is Jones' album through and through, and it bodes well for her future. Having skipped the ingenue phase, she's more than ready for center stage.

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