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Norah Jones avoids sophomore slump

Emily Tumbrink, Assistant Scene Editor | Thursday, February 12, 2004

Since its release, Come Away With Me, Norah Jones’ hugely successful debut album, has sold more than 17 million copies worldwide, won the “Big Three” at the Grammys in 2003 (Best New Artist, Album of the Year, and Record of the Year), and remains in the top 25 after 101 weeks on the Billboard charts. Despite the incredibly high expectations for this young artist’s sophomore follow-up, Jones has bravely released Feels Like Home. Already ranked number one on the Amazon.com sales chart, Jones’ second release is sure to be both a financial and popular success. On this album, Jones, who moved to Manhattan in 1999, has returned to her Texas roots, which would perhaps explain her choice for the title. Feels Like Home combines the sultry jazz sound made famous on Come Away With Me with a more country/bluegrass twang. Despite this slight stylistic change, Feels Like Home feels like a continuation of her previous album, which would be considered a good thing by most listeners.Six of the 13 tracks on Feels Like Home were written or co-written by Jones herself. She has also included covers of Townes Van Zandt’s “Be Here to Love Me” and Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan’s “The Long Way Home,” and revised Duke Ellington’s instrumental, “Melancholia,” by adding her own lyrics and renaming it “Don’t Miss You At All.”While most of the songs on Come Away With Me focused on Jones’ voice surrounded by soft and spare instrumentation, Feels Like Home offers the more tangible presence of The Handsome Band, Jones’ back-up group. Also, the tracks included on Come Away With Me were generally very slow, mellow and soothing. Feels Like Home, on the other hand, features several songs that are upbeat, but still manage to possess the dreamy lounge quality of Come Away With Me.The first single from Feels Like Home, “Sunrise,” was released to radio stations in early January and is sure to gain increasing airplay. This song feels the most like those released on Come Away With Me and is appropriately located at the beginning of Feels Like Home, easing the transition from one style to the next while subtly setting the stage for the rest of the album.”Creepin’ In,” the most country-flavored inclusion on the album, features Dolly Parton providing backup vocals, and feels more like an old country ditty than what is played on today’s country radio stations. Although Feels Like Home most likely will not live up to everyone’s expectations, it is simply because those expectations are too high. The album is a solid release with many great songs and is not likely to disappoint fans, but it cannot quite live up to the standard set by Come Away With Me. While Come Away With Me offered a haven in a music world filled with pop stars and boy bands, the need for an album like Feels Like Home is no longer quite as urgent since Jones has paved the way for many other talented and unique artists to achieve popularity. Despite this lack of urgency, Feels Like Home remains a welcomed release and will probably achieve quiet success in the typical Norah Jones fashion.

Contact Emily Tumbrink at etumbrin@nd.edu