(revised 17 August 2003) Norah Jones' award winning debut album album Come Away With Me (Blue Note Music (USA), 2002) has caught the world by storm. It is not just the timbre of Norah Jones's voice that is mature beyond her 22 years. Her assured phrasing and precise time are more often found in older singers as well. She is instantly recognizable, blending intimations of Billie Holiday and Nina Simone without sounding like anyone but herself.
Anyway you slice it, she is a singer to be reckoned with. Her readings of the Hank Williams classic, "Cold Cold Heart" and Hoagy Carmichael's "The Nearness of You" alone are worth the price of the CD. Jones's own material, while not bad, pales a bit next to masterpieces such as these.
They might have fared better had she and producer Arif Mardin opted for some livelier arrangements, taking better advantage of brilliant sidemen such as Bill Frisell, Kevin Breit, and Brian Blade; or if the tunes had simply been given less laconic performances. Jones has all the tools; what will come with experience, and some careful listening to artists like J.J. Cale and Shirley Horn, is the knack of remaining low-key without being sleepy--sometimes less is not, in fact, more. --Michael Ross (amazon.com)
Norah Jones' first full-length disc is excellent. Arif Mardin does a masterful job of production. The disc starts with a pretty lounge tune "Don't Know Why," "You'll be on my mind forever." The guitar on the quiet "Seven Years" is beautiful as Norah sings the Mona Lisa-like lyric, "Crooked smile on her face tells a tale of grace that's all her own."
Lee Alexander's thumping bass and Jones' piano distill with simplicity the elements of melody & emotion on Hank Williams' "Cold Cold Heart." Alexander's "Feelin' the Same Way" is a perky love song with nice energy. Jones wrote the title track "Come Away With Me." It is one of the most beautiful of melodies.
"Shoot the Moon" with its languid guitar is a slow song of lonliness. My favorite track is J.D. Loudermilk's "Turn Me On." Norah's sultry vocal entices, "Like a flower waiting to bloom, like a lightbulb in a darkened room, I'm sitting here waiting for you to come home and turn me on." "Lonestar" is a slow country blues. "I could almost go there just to live in a dream," Norah sings on the torch blues "I've Got to See You Again."
"Painter's Song" is whimsical. "One Flight Down" has a smoky vocal with a pretty melody. The Jones' penned "Nightingale" has a pretty guitar part with dreamy vocals. Jones' piano gives a sense of flight and freedom as she sings, "You can take me away." "The Long Day Is Over" has a stately feel. The CD concludes with Hoagy Carmichael's "The Nearness of You," "When you're in my arms and I feel you so close to me, all my wildest dreams come true."
For me, this CD could only be stronger with a few toe tappers and a little more variety in tempo. This is a strong effort, a refreshing and rewarding listening experience. Let Norah turn you on!--Lee Armstrong (amazon.com)
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Come Away With Me is a tremendously produced work with stunning vocal work, rich production and the outstanding overall quality one should expect from the Blue Note label, and is a must listen!--Audrey Elliot in New York