Thursday, February 08, 2007

Short Takes: Norah Jones, Patty Griffin, Rickie Lee Jones

Norah Jones – Not Too Late

Norah Jones’ new CD is much like her last two…filled with tasteful, mid-tempo playing and sweetly burnished with her sultry, smoky, delightfully-luminous voice. For the first time Jones had a hand in writing all of the songs…the themes don’t vary much (love and loss mostly) but for a gently-chiding tune about politics and patriotism (“My Dear Country”) and a soft, sober lullaby (“Rosie’s Lullaby” with harmony vocals by co-writer Daru Oda.) Not Too Late loses steam before it runs its course (the basically-unvarying tempo makes some of the songs bleed into each other rather than establish identities of their own) and a lot of it does not linger very long after its finished playing (there’s nothing here as indelible as “Don’t Know Why”, her shimmering breakout hit) but it is a soothing, charming, mostly entertaining musical journey just the same.

Patty Griffin – Children Running Through

Okay, with all due respect to (and continuing affection for) Ms. Allen, this is now my favorite CD of the year so far. If there were any justice in the music world, this passionate, beautiful, eclectic (sometimes it rocks…sometimes it soothes…sometimes it soars high through country skies….sometimes it sails deep into the welcoming waters of the blues) collection of grand songs…imbued with thrilling depth and soul by a earnest, undeniably lovely voice…would shoot to the top of the charts and make Patty Griffin a star. There’s not much justice in the music world so Griffin (whose songs have been recorded by talents as diverse as the Dixie Chicks and Jessica Simpson) will probably have to settle for being a compelling singer/songwriter who has produced a gem of a record. (Special kudos for the soft but urgent gospel of “Up on the Mountain (MLK Song)” and for having the ever-wondrous Emmylou Harris singing harmony on the bittersweet “Trapeze”.)

Rickie Lee Jones – The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard

Discordant and tenderly melodic…pious and acerbic…folksy and funky…rambling and focused…this CD is the sum of its contradictions, a “gospel” record that challenges and rewards its listeners. Rickie Lee Jones’ quirky, engaging vocal phrasings are in full effect and the songs…full of stream of consciousness lyrics and stripped down, sometimes engagingly ragged but always heartfelt playing…invoke Biblical images and ideas without ever becoming preachy. Jones is in fine…if sometimes decidedly odd…voice throughout (including and especially when channeling her inner Tom Waits on the raucous “Tried to Be a Man”, slipping into the Astral Weeks-era groove of Van Morrison on the rambling, evocative “I Was There”, or giving free reign to hopeful joy on the exuberant “Elvis Cadillac”.)

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Other MKW blogstuff: Bread and Roses

1 comment:

Very Anonymous Mike said...

Patty Griffin is an incredible comedianne as well.