THE GRADE A
BOTTOM LINE Norah Jones returns to piano-based jazz with stellar results. Yes, yes, “Don’t Know Why” she didn’t do this sooner.
Let’s get this out of the way. Yes, “Day Breaks” (Blue Note) does mark Norah Jones’ long-awaited return to piano-based jazz. No, this isn’t “Come Away With Me II: Still Don’t Know Why.”
After all, it’s been 14 years since Jones burst on the scene with the lovely jazz-tinged piano pop of “Come Away With Me,” which landed her five Grammys and more than 11 million sales. She has experimented with country, folk, Everly Brothers covers, punk rock, and a bit of electronic music in the intervening years and those choices still inform her music.
Jones is a far more seasoned songwriter now, as seen in the sultry, poetic “Burn,” the angry protest of “Flipside,” and the patient first single “Carry On” with its gorgeous New Orleans vibe. And she can still deliver a knockout ballad like “It’s a Wonderful Time for Love,” while holding her own with greats like saxophonist Wayne Shorter in a classic like Duke Ellington’s “Fleurette Africaine.”
While “Come Away With Me” is the work of an undeniable talent, “Day Breaks” is the work of a master.