The Spinners

The Fall (Norah Jones, 2009)

In Blues, Frances Mae Ramos, Pop, Soul on January 29, 2010 at 11:10 am

One can’t begrudge Norah Jones her musical experimentations. Her jazzy overtures have been languid, and the albums that follow her Grammy-winning debut may not have done enough to wake up other angsty audiences to the elegance of her music. So when she dabbles in rock and electronic riffs, those aching to tap their fingers to her music find their restlessness appeased.

The Fall, her fourth album, might have been the result of her tempered musings on the underground scene, where she had been spotted whiling her openness to other styles. But while she integrates some noise into the ambience of the tracks, she doesn’t sacrifice the delicacy of her vocals, which, as habit should have it, saunters in like Norah Jones’ own.

The results aren’t very radical. More candid, for sure, but none that someone would grieve for too long. In fact, The Fall does not descend at all. It elevates Norah Jones into the realm of artists who can still speak honestly amid the background of countless musical migrations. There are also no impressionistic mishmashes of guitars, piano and newfound beats that other Frankensteinish artists might cobble into dissonance.

The opening track, “Chasing Pirates”, is a decent introduction to her economy of notes, a subtle cobbling of guitar strums and country-style march that is reminiscent of Sheryl Crow’s sentimentalities. Unlike the latter, however, Jones hardly gives the lyrics grave emotions. The way she pours the poetry is like speaking softly to a lover, which also goes well in the melancholic tactlessness of “You’ve Ruined Me”.

“Even Though” alerts the senses to the rambling ballads that bring about a wistful heartache. But whatever sadness it contains refuses to lull the senses to a more soporific listening. It’s the type of emo tune that insists on keeping the afterthoughts of a break-up awake, some sort of sadness that only the distant rain over a cup of coffee can help relieve.

Most people know the fondness of coffee shops for the Norah Jones-type of music, but rarely do her emphatic vocals in The Fall allow pause to pour more espresso. One can listen to “Light as a Feather”, “You’ve Ruined Me” and “I Wouldn’t Need You” in consistent suspension of all things indiscreet and lacking subtlety, but still come out melodiously introspective, as if there’s rhyme and reason to the deluge of ideas that comes to mind while listening to all sorts of sounds. And that’s just it. With this album, one can sense that Jones can take even the squeaks and gargles of other eclectic musical genres and fine-tune them to a satisfyingly intimate whole.

– Frances Mae Ramos

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