July 25, 2024

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CD review: Norah Jones – Visions – 2024: Video, CD cover

Norah Jones will release her ninth solo studio album, Visions, on March 8 via Blue Note Records.

Visions is a collaboration between Jones and producer and multi-instrumentalist Leon Michaels that is described via a press release as “a vibrant and joyous 12-song set that finds Jones singing about feeling free, wanting to dance, making it right, and acceptance of what life brings.” The album announcement comes with the release of its lead single, “Running,” and its accompanying video, which you can watch via the player below.

There’s no clear reason for Norah Jones to be playing, for the first time in over a decade; no new record to promote, no hard sell for her to engage in.

It’s been three years since the New Yorker put out an album of fresh material, 2020’s varied, playful Pick Me Up Off the Floor, and whilst she released a festive record, I Dream of Christmas, a year later, she wisely decides.

As somebody who’s sold in excess of 50 million records, she is presumably not here because she needs to pay the bills, either. Instead, you get the sense that Jones is out on her first full tour of Britain since 2010 purely because she wants to play. This imbues the show with an admirable looseness, allowing her to touch upon every area of her back catalogue and paint with every colour in her musical palette.

She remains best known as a jazz singer, off the back of her softly bluesy, diamond-certified debut, Come Away with Me, but has also incorporated country, folk and indie pop, all of which will be given air time tonight.

The setup is minimal; a three-member backing band, with guitar, bass, and tastefully understated percussion. Then, there’s Norah and her piano, from behind which she’ll deploy both moody experimentalism (the brooding, minimalist opener ‘My Heart Is Full’), classic jazz, and plenty in between.

Norah and her three-piece band delivered classic hits from Come Away with Me and her back catalogue
Norah and her three-piece band delivered classic hits from Come Away with Me and her back catalogue (Image: Helen Millington)

The setlist pulls from every corner of her twenty-year career, but with the band set up for a jazz show, songs are reworked to fit Come Away with Me’s bluesy blueprint; ‘Sunrise’ and ‘What Am I to You?’, folksy on record, now revolve around Jones’ smooth keys, whilst the chirpy pop of ‘Happy Pills’ is given a mellow makeover.

Still, there’s plenty of scope to go off-piste. In among the usual suspects are covers, including a gorgeous take on Ray Charles’ ‘You Don’t Know Me’, deep cuts, like the Come Away with Me bonus track ‘Something Is Calling You’, and even a touch of blues rock, as Jones moves centre stage with a Fender Jaguar for ‘Don’t Know What It Means’, a track by her Brooklyn alt-country trio Puss n Boots.

Norah Jones has announced her new album Visions, her first new (non-Christmas) LP in nearly four years. Ahead of Visions’ March 8 release, Jones has shared its first single “Running,” which — like the majority of the album — is a collaboration with producer and multi-instrumentalist Leon Michels, a contributor to both Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and the Arcs.

“The reason I called the album Visions is because a lot of the ideas came in the middle of the night or in that moment right before sleep, and ‘Running’ was one of them where you’re half asleep and kind of jolted awake,” Jones said in a statement.

“We did most of the songs in the same way where I was at the piano or on guitar and Leon was playing drums and we were just jamming on stuff. I like the rawness between me and Leon, the way it sounds kind of garage-y but also kind of soulful, because that’s where he’s coming from, but also not overly perfected.”

Visions, available to preorder now, marks Jones’ first album since 2021’s I Dream of Christmas; her last LP of non-seasonal music was 2020’s Pick Me Up Off the Floor. The singer has been busy since then though, reissuing her breakout debut Come Away With Me, covering Leonard Cohen, and releasing the one-off single “Can You Believe” in 2023.

Norah Jones drops 'Visions' album with lead single 'Running' | Diya TV