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May 2, 2012 / jhsaeger

Tuesday’s Buzz: Norah Jones’ Little Broken Hearts

    On Tuesday, Norah Jones will release Little Broken Hearts, her fifth studio record and what is likely her most image-conscious project since she first burst onto the international stage in 2002. Billed as Norah Jones’ attempt to sprinkle her traditionally mellow style with a bit of pop, Little Broken Hearts has a handful of moments where the singer-songwriter does accomplish her goal, although the record as a whole was not a terribly drastic departure from her style.
    To help add simple hooks to her usual methods, Jones wisely selected Brian Burton, also known by the pseudonym Danger Mouse, to produce Little Broken Hearts. Burton has been on a hot streak lately, thanks to the enormity of records with The Black Keys, Beck, and Sparklehouse, as well as projects as a member of Gnarls Barkley and Broken Bells. The producer, who is also alleged to be working with U2 on their long-awaited record, inserted his influence into Jones’ sound in small, but noticeable doses, including his selective inclusion of bass player Gus Seyffert, who has served as the touring bassist with The Black Keys since 2010.
    Burton’s most audible influences on Little Broken Hearts naturally come in the most uptempo, and best, tracks on the record. After beginning with the low key “Good Morning,” the record changes pace with its catchiest track, “Say Goodbye.” A track rooted in a simple hook provided by Jones’ Wurlitzer piano and Burton’s drumming, the lyrics of “Say Goodbye” are occasionally sultry, but ultimately represents the character of the song’s adieu to an untrustworthy relationship.
    Another moment on the record were some pop stylings breathe life into Jones’ sound is “After the Fall,” where a string piece from The Sonus Quartet and a repetitive effort on Burton’s synthesizer help the song float along. The other track on Little Broken Hearts that reveals a predominant influence from Burton is the record’s first single, “Happy Pills,” which possesses a drum beat reminiscent of his work on the Broken Bells project with James Mercer as Jones pleads with the tiny object to “please just let me go.”  
    The remainder of the album retains Jones’ signature sound with occasional shades of blues, but does not stand as a grand reinvention of her sound. As a record, it has its moments which might help Jones receive airplay on younger radio stations than her most recent discography, but still remains firmly rooted in her past style.
    Little Broken Hearts is available as a digital download, compact disc, and a double 180 gram white vinyl. Norah Jones will support Little Broken Hearts with an international tour that kicks off in Paris, France on May 25. Jones’ North American tour will begin on June 20.

Other Cool Stuff That Hits This Week: George Harrison: Living In The Material World, Carrie Underwood: Blown Away, Rufus Wainwright: Out of the Game, L.L. Cool J: Icon

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