Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts (2012) DSF DSD64

Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts (2012)
DSD64 (.dsf) 1 bit/2,82 MHz | Time – 45:03 minutes | 1,78 GB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | Booklet, Front Cover | © Blue Note Records/Analogue Productions

Part of Analogue Productions’ reissue of the Norah Jones’ solo catalog, featuring the individual albums Come Away With Me, Feels Like Home, Not Too Late, The Fall, and …Little Broken Hearts. Each album will also be featured in an exclusive LP box set and an exclusive SACD box set that will include Norah’s Covers album!

Norah Jones’ Little Broken Hearts was created in collaboration with producer Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton, best known as the producing ace for Gnarls Barkley with singer Cee Lo Green. Jones and Danger Mouse wrote all of the material for the album together at the producer’s studio in Los Angeles, and the duo performed all of the instruments themselves. This is their second time working together — Jones previously appeared as a vocalist on Rome, Danger Mouse’s collaboration with Italian composer Daniele Luppi. Though Little Broken Hearts is the result of a partnership between Jones and Danger Mouse, the record will be credited only to her.

The album’s sound ranges from experimental chamber serenades to stark, electronic-embellished confessions. “It’s obviously very different than anything Norah’s ever done,” Burton says. “I don’t know what people will think — I hope they like it, and she doesn’t lose a bunch of fans.”

“I’d never gone in with nothing and wrote songs from scratch, and I’d never played bass before on a record,” Jones told Rolling Stone. “I was out of my comfort zone — but I was comfortable because we’re friends.”

Adds Burton, “The best thing was having just the two of us on those first sessions, not a whole band. Norah had as many, if not more, great ideas than I did.”

One of the boldest departures is “Take It Back,” which features fuzzed-out guitars and spooky, distorted vocals. “I never knew how to get weird sounds,” Jones says. “It was all about finding a balance between those effects and making sure my voice was clear and sounded like me.”

In its own quiet way, Little Broken Hearts hews closer to heartbreak classics like Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear than to anything in Jones’ back catalog, Rolling Stone reports, “This time, I’ve been way less concerned with self-editing,” Jones says. “I’m not sad, but there’s a lot of hurt in there. And it felt great to say what I felt and put it down on tape. Doing that made me so happy! This album is all about saying things that needed to be said.”

Exorcizing the ghost of a failed relationship via the time-honored tradition of the breakup album, Norah Jones luxuriates in beautiful misery on Little Broken Hearts. Liberated by the separation but not quite ready to let it go, Jones achieves a curious subdued tension here, dressing unadorned confessionals in softly stylized studio noir created with the assistance of producer Danger Mouse, who collaborated with her the year before on the collective Rome. Seeming opposites — the classicist meets the futurist — Jones and Danger Mouse are well matched, as both artists are not as set in their ways as their individual reputations would suggest. Jones began to drift away from the jazzy sophistication of Come Away with Me when she released the quietly adventurous Not Too Late way back in 2007, the year after Danger Mouse broke into the mainstream via Gnarls Barkley. In the ensuing half decade, the singer/songwriter continued to dabble in different sounds and styles while the producer streamlined his electronic eccentricities, leaving them to meet at the crossroads of Little Broken Hearts, where he wrings out the pathos in her songs. The songs themselves hold little mystery — all motivations are laid bare, there are no twists in the melodies or detours hidden within the structure — so all the mystique derives from a production that amplifies the themes. Occasionally, Danger Mouse piles on his signature murk a little too thickly, weighing down such spare sad songs as “She’s 22” and “Miriam,” yet his aural tapestries often lend the tunes a lilting melancholy they require and add dimension to the album’s poppier moments (“Happy Pills,” “Say Goodbye”). Conversely, by placing so much emphasis on the stylish ever-shifting surfaces of its production, Little Broken Hearts never quite sinks in emotionally. Norah Jones may be pouring her heart out but it’s been given an elegantly detailed sculpture that camouflages her pain. Listen closely and its evident, but it takes effort to ignore the alluring haze and hear the songs that lie beneath. –AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine


1. Good Morning 03:18
2. Say Goodbye 03:27
3. Little Broken Hearts 03:12
4. She’s 22 03:11
5. Take It Back 04:06
6. After The Fall 03:42
7. 4 Broken Hearts 03:00
8. Travelin’ On 03:07
9. Out On The Road 03:29
10. Happy Pills 03:35
11. Miriam 04:25
12. All A Dream 06:29

Norah Jones – vocals (all tracks); guitar (tracks 1, 2, 4); Rhodes (tracks 1, 7); bass (track 2); piano (tracks 2, 4, 5, 7, 9–12); acoustic guitar (tracks 3, 11); electric guitar (tracks 3, 5, 7, 10, 12); Wurlitzer (tracks 2, 5); organ (track 4)
Brian Burton – string arrangements (all tracks); synthesizer (tracks 1–6, 10, 12); organ (tracks 1, 6); acoustic guitar (tracks 1, 8); electric guitar (tracks 2, 3, 5, 7, 9); drums (tracks 2, 3, 5, 7, 10); percussion (track 3); piano (track 6); bass, programming (track 12)
Dan Elkan – electric guitar (track 10)
Jonathan Hischke – bass (track 10)
Heather McIntosh – cello, cello arrangements (tracks 1, 8); bass (track 8)
Blake Mills – electric guitar (tracks 1, 3–7, 9–12); acoustic guitar (tracks 7, 9, 12)
Todd Monfalcone – electric guitar (track 10)
Gus Seyffert – bass (tracks 3, 5–7, 9, 11, 12); backing vocals (track 5); electric guitar (tracks 5, 7)
Sonus Quartet – strings (tracks 5, 6, 11, 12)
Joey Waronker – drums (tracks 6, 7, 9, 11, 12); percussion (tracks 7, 11, 12)

Recorded: 2011, Mondo Studio, Electro Vox Studios, Los Angeles, California; Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio.


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