Visions by Norah Jones

Norah Jones

Norah Jones stands out from the pack as more than just another middling lounge act; she’s collaborated with legendary musician Dan Auerbach (Black Keys), formed a country band and even released an experimental funk album during COVID lockdown in 2021!

Following her winning of two Down Beat Student Music Awards in 1996 and 1997, she attended the University of North Texas where she studied jazz piano while singing with the UNT Jazz Singers.

Her First Album

Norah Jones and her music were an oasis for listeners grieving the September 11 terrorist attacks, providing hope and comforting listeners who needed comforting during this trying time. At only twentysomething years old at that point in her career, her voice and music instantly resonated with listeners who needed a boost after the tragic events had transpired.

Come Away With Me was Jones’ debut album. On it she recorded Great American Songbook standards and country classics with an intimate warmth that stood out among an otherwise overproduced genre of music.

This album opens with an acoustic version of Billie Holiday’s iconic hit “Summer Can Really Hang You Up the Most,” in which Jones shines over piano notes and an ever-so-subtle bass line. She continues this stellar performance in her rendition of Dolly Parton’s energetic track, “Cold Cold Heart.”

Her Second Album

Visions by Nora Jones is the yin to 2020’s Pick Me Up Off the Floor, shining bright with songs of joy and springtime optimism. On its opening track “All This Time,” Jones layers her vocals over an appealing garage-y soul sound; she and Leon Michels share an easy rapport when performing together; this comfort continues throughout Visions.

Born in New York City, Norah’s parents separated when she was young and her mother took her to Texas, settling near Grapevine near Dallas. There she sang in church choir, took piano lessons and studied alto sax at Booker T Washington High School for Performing Arts – taking inspiration from artists such as Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday from her mother’s record collection as a source of musical creativity. At 21 she signed her first record contract with Blue Note Records.

Her Third Album

Feels Like Home sold over one million copies within its first week of release in 2004. In 2005, Jones recorded Not Too Late at her home studio, writing all songs herself for this album for the first time. Wilco member Jeff Tweedy added his distinctive acoustic guitar sound to give “Wake Me Up” its kick. Production on Not Too Late was less prominent than on its predecessor due to bassist Lee Alexander and pianist Thomas Bartlett providing additional accompaniment; bassist Lee Alexander provided bass support while pianist Thomas Bartlett provided bass instruments while Tweedy provided his signature acoustic sound on one song “Wake Me Up”.

Norah Jones may have initially been written off by critics and casual listeners as too much of a good thing on her second album; however, as time passed she has proved both as musician and songwriter to grow exponentially. From songs about existential dread and hope in darkness to heartbreak themes, her vocal performance and songwriting continue to shine brightly on Visions; where genre signposts have been stripped away to expose Norah’s remarkable vocal abilities and empathic songwriting capabilities.

Her Fourth Album

Norah Jones continues her haunting melodies on Visions, an album which blends country, jazz and folk into an intuitive harmonic language that makes listening an enjoyable experience, almost as though an improvised jam session took place.

“All This Time” kicks off the album with a dramatic torch song that could easily have been written for old movies about love and loss. There are elements of bluegrass, Stax-type soul and fuzzy rock mixed in throughout, including piano-driven tracks like “Running.”

One of the highlights is a piano-driven ballad called “Creepin’ In.” With its soulful vocals reminiscent of old spirituals, “Creepin’ In” showcases Jones as more than just an attractive singer; she has an outstanding understanding of jazz as well; she displays this on “Creepin’ In.” Her acoustic guitar work on this track stands out, along with stretching over strong piano chords; volume dynamics and inflections play into creating light and shade throughout.