Styles collide in new album

Photo courtesy of EMI Music

Smooth, sexy-voiced Norah Jones is back for her fifth studio album, …Featuring, proving her unusual ability to mesh well with every genre.

Her album will be released Nov. 16, but starting Monday, Nov. 1, a new Jones video vignette highlighting a collaboration from the new album will be posted online every day.  Based on these previews, Jones seems to be coming back strong, providing the same sultry vocal strength but this time with a surprising jazz, country, rock and hip-hop influence.

Since the success of her first album, Come Away with Me, released in 2002, Jones has provided listeners with Grammy-winning albums for the past eight years.

This time, however, with the help from EMI’s Blue Note Records, Jones reveals a different side of herself not demonstrated in other albums by collaborating with several different artists.

…Featuring presents 18 compilations of Jones’ music over the past decade, including tunes she recorded in 2001 before she became a hit. Each song on the album features Jones and other individual artists or bands, such as Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, the Foo Fighters, OutKast and others.

The album is definitely worth buying to hear this different side of Jones working with other many legendary artists successfully. Although it might be surprising to find out that Jones is the artist behind the album, what with the unexpected genre changes that occur from song to song, her contagious passion exists more so than ever.

…Featuring seems to focus on the other artists instead of Jones, with her powerful vocals used only as accompaniment. The songs are intriguing and easy to enjoy, but there is not much fluidity from one song to the next, making it nearly impossible to choose just one genre for the album.

Although this could make it difficult to choose an appropriate time to listen to the entire album, the unpredictably of it all has the potential to keep listeners’ ears glued to their speakers through all 18 tracks.

On a first listen of the album, it somewhat resembles the folksy and foxy tunes of Break Up, Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson’s collaborative album from last year. Although the two albums differ in genres, with Break Up having a much more happy-go-lucky feel, Jones and Johansson could easily be mistaken for one another vocally.

This multi-genre album begins with an upbeat and quick piano introduction with The Little Willies featuring Jones in “Love Me.” The duet exudes passion and will send you out of your seat to assume the fox trot while enjoying the ambiance in a ’50s diner.

The melody is smooth and works well with what sounds like a choir accompanying Jones in the background.

“Virginia Moon”  features Jones and the Foo Fighters singing together in perfect sync reciting, Virginia Moon, I wait for you tonight. Listeners might find their hips subconsciously swaying to the beat of the tunes, but they should just try to embrace it.

The album’s ninth track, “Life is Better,” is a beautiful rendition recorded with Q-Tip as the two of them mix rap and Jones’ soft high and low pitch voice together. Jones’ soft tunes work perfectly alongside the hip-hop and rap style of Q-Tip.

If anyone missed the passion and style of Ray Charles’ music, fear not, because the duet between Jones and Charles is one that should not be overlooked, even though it’s near the end of the album. Charles and Jones bring listeners back to the good old days of soul music, proving that Jones will let no genre stand in her way of providing great music for the public to enjoy.

The album concludes with an alternative-styled “Blue Bayou,” featuring M. Ward. The slow tunes unite country, guitar and very different pitches into one entity of bliss. Again, don’t look past the tracks at the bottom of the album.

For anyone going to listen to the album, don’t expect the same Jones that many have relied on for the past eight years. Her previous four albums feature similar sounding tunes that pinpointed Jones with her reliable and rugged voice.

However, for all the Jones fans out there, don’t miss this album. It is different than the others, but Jones continues to send those warm sensations running up and down your spine that come naturally while listening to this many-Grammy-winning award artist. Jones, who might have been considered a one-woman-show in her previous albums, proves her ability to successfully mesh well with pretty much every other genre.

Although the album is different, Jones’ passion still prevails.