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.

Comments (12)
  1. zxcvb  |   Posted on Aug 20th, 2009 0

    My feeling is that Norah was always like this. She probably loved the same music people here do — that plus old jazz and country standards. She had a great voice that was co-opted by big record labels and she slipped into a pleasant, but boring MOR adult contemporary career.

    Now she’s doing her best to break out of it, and I’m curious as to what she might come up with. Zooey Deschanel might be a good reference point (i.e. She and Him). I think Norah could put out those kinds of simple, soulful vocally-driven songs.

    • pj  |   Posted on Aug 20th, 2009 0

      I saw her a couple years back (with my mother of course) with M Ward as her openner. That guy knows how to keep himself surrounded by babes.

  2. Bob K.  |   Posted on Aug 20th, 2009 0

    She is extremely hot in a somewhat offbeat way. Looking forward to hearing this album, as Sheff is one of the best songwriters going.

    PS- Please don’t link to that painfully unfunny “videogum” blog without telling us what we’re linking to. I’d hate to drive up their hit count and make you guys think that’s actually a good running feature.

    • rat  |   Posted on Aug 20th, 2009 0

      wow, you’re a complete douchebag.

    • woozefa  |   Posted on Aug 20th, 2009 0

      the internet just added this really cool new function where, if you place your cursor over a “link” you can see what you’re linking to at the bottom of your “screen.” it’s pretty space age, i know, but you should check it out.

  3. jjazznola  |   Posted on Aug 20th, 2009 0

    “Zooey Deschanel might be a good reference point” Are you kidding? Norah is a real singer, not an actress pretending to be one. She & Him would have never even gotten a mention if ZD wasn’t already famous.

  4. Bob K.  |   Posted on Aug 20th, 2009 0

    The column is basically an endless commentary on how much various movies suck, and it’s off limits to say the column sucks? Really?

    And I’m pretty sure it was already done on the Onion AV Club.

    • hey man. just because you’re out of touch with or disillusioned by or ambivalent about or uninterested or SOMETHING in american pop culture, and you don’t get some of the jokes doesn’t mean that it itself is an unworthy blog. gabe has a head on his shoulders and i find him to be a pretty witty, savvy person and, moreover, a pretty good writer. he does the blog better than, oh i don’t know, 99.99(9?) percent of the blogs that exist. stereogum and videogum are both havens for hipsters that have an interest for all things americana, and that is a great thing, and it makes perfect sense to me why they’re joined together, and why they advertise one another. so the side that agrees with the opinions like the one you (continue to) state is always going to fall in the minority. so stop it. get over yourself. you do not, will not, cannot win.

      anyhow. a will sheff/norah jones collaboration, i don’t think, can be anything besides absolutely beautiful.

  5. ponykid  |   Posted on Aug 20th, 2009 0

    I love her song “Broken”. Also love all the Norah news lately haha.

  6. Well Hung Ike  |   Posted on Aug 21st, 2009 0

    Norah Jones has taste and talent. She needs not be an apologist to anyone for her past successes.

    Long after flavor-of-the-week indie bands like Deerhunter fade into into MP3/cool-to-namedrop-in-ten-years-time oblivion, she will still be doing interesting things.

    Can’t wait to hear the results of this collaboration.

  7. pepykaa  |   Posted on Dec 2nd, 2009 0

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