Norah Jones- Little Broken Hearts

Virgin Records, Audio CD: Rs. 395

If you’re expecting the expected with the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Norah Jones, you are in for a pleasant surprise!

The poignantly sonic and lyrical journeying of a crumbling relationship is the theme of this album which takes Jones’ already remarkable talent several notches higher. It’s a gorgeously murky album that is about betrayal, incapacitating hurt, humiliation, the desire for vengeance, and, eventually, the ability to leave, bowed but not broken.

The album opener is the wistful, string-laden “Good Morning,” in which Jones’ lullaby-like melody talks of how she's holding losing cards in her hands.

Right from the start, the listener comes to a realisation that this is a collaborative effort with Brian Burton, the producer, who has invariably brought out the best in the singer.

With “Say Goodbye” which is a bit coarse, a tad bluesy and an absolute hit, Norah’s sultry vocals are chilling.

Melancholy at its best is evident on “She’s 22-inch” which is a little acquiescent with its constant repetitions of “Does she make you happy?”. But the lone reference in the end where she croons “I’d like to see you happy” is what makes this song a winner.

“Miriam,” which takes a vengeful tone, threatening ruthless hostility to the other woman who lured her man to cheat is poles apart. This track sees Jones push boundaries lyrically and musically.

Plunging into the emotional depth of music is the instrumentation on “Take It Back” which has a catchy acoustic opening and surprisingly turns into a finely fashioned, western-hint piece at its conclusion.

“After the Fall” is just the kind of track that would keep you nodding along. Diaphanous, torpid and lithe, Jones’ panache to move out of her comfort zone is what you’d come to see here.

“4 Broken Hearts” is lingering and hypnotic while “Travelin’ On” is remarkable for its distinct cello and a homey facade that is easy and calm. The lead single from the album, “Happy Pills” is bubbly and endearing.The album ends with “All a Dream” which employs dreamy violins and bluesy guitars to make for an epic and fitting finale to an album that is a total unconventional delight. Other tracks on the record include the beautiful title track and “Out on the Road”.

With this album, listeners see a singer who is no longer fastened to the piano. Little Broken Hearts steps out into an array that includes nebulous guitars, pretty string sections, and tinkling pop synthesisers. The two collaborators work together impeccably and Burton exploits Jones’ vocal strength to her advantage.

The beauty of this musical offering is that it’s dynamic. Songs distend and erect, sonic patterns shift paradigms and the end result for the listener is definitely not a broken heart!