Plenty of people have heard my Norah Jones sob story. However, Jen and Lia certainly can corroborate my story in this instance, as I sang the praises of a talented and as of then undiscovered new voice in … jazz, if you will permit me to limit Norah’s influence.
She was a celebrity crush for this sucker for a beautiful female voice, until she became everyone’s! All of a sudden it was fashionable to fall in love with Norah Jones, though that’s not where my heartbreak comes in. Rather, in the days in which she was opening for the likes of a young and also up-and-coming John Mayer in the heart of Texas music at Stubb’s BBQ in Austin, she had a quiet EP released entitled First Sessions that was available on her website for ten bucks. They were just trying to get rid of the things, I guess, but like a viral video in the YouTube culture, word of Miss Norah spread rapidly and she became the hottest singer in America. Shortly after my ill-fated regretful decision not to purchase the album right away (10 bucks is a lot to the college sophomore), the limited release was sold out and prices blew up to $250 on eBay. Since then, more than once, I have had to resist paying a premium for an album that might rival my painful acquisition of a rare-ish 1999 EP called Get Down!, by Soulive.
The jazz community showed mixed reactions to Norah’s overnight fame; some denounced Norah as not jazz (those were the snobs), and some were quick to point out that, at her core, exudes jazz vocalists, with a parent-like pride that one of ours was seeing success that even the likes of the classically beautiful Diana Krall has not really seen. Norah’s music is rooted in the blues, and Come Away With Me, her debut album for Blue Note Records, was a personal, classy story of a girl, her piano, and her voice.
Ok, and her band. The Handsome Band. The Dreaded, Goofy Looking Band. Jazz doesn’t require these musicians to be anything particularly special, as Norah’s voice really carries the sound (she could sing to me a cappella for all I care), but I’m not convinced that I ever got a glimpse of whether or not the Handsome Band could truly swing.
To add insult to injury, it turns out that the lucky bassist, Lee Alexander, has been seeing Norah socially, if you will, but you have to forgive the guy after hearing their cover of Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart,” in which Alexander pizzicatos heart-strings, while Norah coaxes a melody from her piano.
So why am I talking about a 2002 CD release now? Well, Norah has since put out a sophomore effort in “Feels Like Home,” an album that, let’s just say, met expectations of a second album …. But rather, she is on the verge of her third major Blue Note release in “Not Too Late,” for which I have high hopes. Her voice has since stayed mostly true, but undoubtedly, she has matured as an artist in ways that should be quite exciting.
The album drops at the end of the month, and I’m predicting a winner in this one. Anyway, it’s high time for me to fall in love with her voice, all over again.