Norah Jones – Feels Like Home (2004)

FrontCover1Feels Like Home is the second album by jazz/pop songwriter Norah Jones, released in 2004. It sold a million copies in the first week of its U.S. release, the first album to do so since Eminem’s The Eminem Show (2002) and it was the second best-selling album of 2004, with about 4 million copies sold in U.S. It is also holds the record for the sixth largest first week sales for a woman, just behind Britney Spears’ Oops…! I Did It Again, Taylor Swift’s 1989 and Red, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, and Swift’s album Speak Now, respectively. It sold approximately 1,000,000 copies on its first week in the US. In the Netherlands, it was the year’s best-selling album and the twenty-fourth best-selling album of the 2000s. Worldwide, this album has shipped over 12 million copies. Jones won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for (“Sunrise”), and was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album (Feels Like Home), and Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for “Creepin’ In” with Dolly Parton. To support the album her record label recorded a commercial to be in televised in the U.S. and worldwide. In the commercial she dubs the three singles from the album. (by wikipedia)

Booklet03AIt may be far too obvious to even mention that Norah Jones’ follow-up to her 18-million-unit-selling, eight-Grammy-winning, genre-bending, super-smash album Come Away With Me has perhaps a bit too much to live up to. But that’s probably the biggest conundrum for Jones: having to follow up the phenomenal success of an album that was never designed to be so hugely popular in the first place. Come Away With Me was a little album by an unknown pianist/vocalist who attempted to mix jazz, country, and folk in an acoustic setting — who knew? Feels Like Home could be seen as “Come Away With Me Again” if not for that fact that it’s actually better. Smartly following the template forged by Jones and producer Arif Mardin, there is the intimate single “Sunrise,” some reworked cover tunes, some interesting originals, and one ostensible jazz standard. These are all good things, for also like its predecessor, Feels Like Home is a soft and amiable album that frames Jones’ soft-focus Aretha Franklin voice with a group of songs that are as classy as they are quiet. Granted, not unlike the dippy albeit catchy hit “Don’t Know Why,” they often portend deep thoughts but come off in the end more like heartfelt daydreams. Of course, Jones could sing the phone book and make it sound deep, and that’s what’s going to keep listeners coming back.

NorahJonesWhat’s surprising here are the bluesy, more jaunty songs that really dig into the country stylings only hinted at on Come Away With Me. To these ends, the infectious shuffle of “What Am I to You?” finds Jones truly coming into her own as a blues singer as well as a writer. Her voice has developed a spine-tingling breathy scratch that pulls on your ear as she rises to the chorus. Similarly, “Toes” and “Carnival Town” — co-written by bassist Lee Alexander and Jones — are pure ’70s singer/songwriting that call to mind a mix of Rickie Lee Jones and k.d. lang. Throw in covers of Tom Waits and Townes Van Zandt along with Duke Ellington’s “Melancholia,” retitled here “Don’t Miss You at All” and featuring lyrics by Jones, and you’ve got an album so blessed with superb songwriting that Jones’ vocals almost push the line into too much of a good thing. Thankfully, there is also a rawness and organic soulfulness in the production that’s refreshing. No digital pitch correction was employed in the studio and you can sometimes catch Jones hitting an endearingly sour note. She also seems to be making good on her stated desire to remain a part of a band. Most all of her sidemen, who’ve worked with the likes of Tom Waits and Cassandra Wilson, get writing credits. It’s a “beauty and the beast” style partnership that harks back to the best Brill Building-style intentions and makes for a quietly experimental and well-balanced album. (by Matt Collar)

Lee Alexander (bass, lap steel on 12.)
Andrew Borger (drums)
Kevin Breit (guitar, banjolin, background vocals)
Norah Jones (vocals, piano, pump organ on 09.)
Adam R. Levy (guitar, background vocals)
Brian Blade (drums on 12.)
Rob Burger (pump organ on 03. + 07.)
David Gold (viola on 04.)
Jesse Harris (guitar on 03. + 04.)
Levon Helm (drums on 02.)
Garth Hudson (organ on 02., accordion on 06.)
Daru Oda (background vocals, flute on 11.)
Dolly Parton (vocals on 07.)
Tony Scherr (guitar on 02.)
Jane Scarpantoni (cello on 04.)

01. Sunrise (Jones/Alexander) 3.20
02. What Am I To You?  (Jones) 3.29
03. Those Sweet Words (Alexander/Julian) 3.22
04. Carnival Town (Jones/Alexander) 3.12
05. In The Morning (Levy) 4.07
06. Be Here To Love Me (v.Zandt) 3.28
07. Creepin’ In (Alexander) 3.03
08. Toes (Jones/Alexander) 3.46
09. Humble Me (Breit) 4.36
10. Above Ground (Borger/Oda) 3.43
11. The Long Way Home (Brennan/Waits) 3.13
12. The Prettiest Thing (Jones/Alexander/Julian) 3.51
13. Don’t Miss You At All  (Jones/Ellington) 3.06