Published Oct 05, 2016Norah Jones goes back to basics with her new straight up jazz album, Day Breaks. While her 2002 breakout debut Come Away With Me is arguably more of a pop record, and subsequent records dabbled in country and folk, Jones has never been shy about showing her jazz roots, and with this 12-track full-length, she hews closely to the genre.
As a musician, vocalist and lyricist, Jones is in a solid place in terms of mastery. This time out, a collaboration with names such as saxophonist Wayne Shorter, percussionist Brian Blade and bassist John Patitucci sees a the self-professed "jazz dropout" helm a strong project of original material, save for a sweet rendition of Duke Ellington's "Fleurette Africaine" and a bulletproof interpretation of Neil Young's "Don't Be Denied." Together, the tight ensemble conveys a warmth and quietude that envelops the entire affair.
Opener "Burn" sets the jazz stage, and unfolds with a sultry smoulder. Title track "Day Breaks" rushes in with restrained intensity, its sax breaks and urgent bass layered brilliantly. The gentle bass-assisted swoon of "Then There Was Youis sublime, while the fluidity displayed on "Peace" sees Jones establish a modern standard by way of strong lyrics and piano playing. The lone soft spot is "Tragedy," with its repetitive chorus — "It's a tragedy" times five — slightly obscuring the intended impact of an account of wayward love.
"I finally know who I'm supposed to be," Jones sings on "Flipside," a declaration signifying a gifted artist's return to a beloved genre she builds on nicely here. (Universal/Blue Note)