Norah has carved out a special space for herself in the Living Room/Rockwood Music Hall side of the LES music hang; in a circuit full of singers and sidemen with jazz in their roots, she’s the chosen one who at a whim can crossover to pretty much anything she wants — indie (via covers and concerts), conscious rap, comedic rap, and the money-making super-broad mainstream (see: a trillion albums sold) — and seemingly never breaking a sweat. Even when making the vaunted musician-to-actress leap and landing in what might be the worst movie of all time, it’s like she gets points just for trying, in a world where nobody actually gets points just for trying. She’s like the half-Indian Zooey Deschanel. Brown-eyed instead of blue, and just as bulletproof.
And her stock in the eyes of those who appreciate indie songwriting will only go up when they hear how she explains her choice of Jacquire King to produce her forthcoming, fourth LP (“I got in touch with [him] initially because he engineered one of my favorite records of all time, Tom Waits’ Mule Variations“). Or when they learn that along with frequent songwriting partner/”Don’t Know Why” creator Jesse Harris, she’s co-written songs for this next set with showmate Ryan Adams and Okkervil man Will Sheff. According to today’s press release, Norah’s got a whole new backing band (including Beck’s drummer Joey Waronker, soul keyboardist James Poyser, and guitar heroes Marc Ribot and Smokey Hormel, both of whom played on Mule Variations) helping out on this record, and that she’s “taken a new direction.” We haven’t heard a note, but in as much as press releases can sound, it actually sounds like it. More soon.