Nothing perks up my ears these days than “produced by Danger Mouse.” In a decade behind the boards he has moved into rarified air of must hear producers like Rick Rubin. And much like Rubin who go seamlessly between rap, metal and folk, Danger Mouse (government: Brian Burton) has worked from people as wide ranging as cartoon Gorillaz, blues rockers The Black Keys, and his groups with Cee-Lo Green and James Mercer. Then on his spaghetti western soundtrack to a movie that was never made that he made with Daniele Luppi Burton made his most unlike collaboration yet: Norah Jones.
Yes Norah Jones, the jazzy-pop artist that every soccer mom in America played over and over again in their minivans a decade ago when she released Don’t Know Why. But in the ten years since, Norah has gotten more and more adventurous with the tracks she applies her silky vocals to culminating in her previous best album The Fall released back in 2009. Then Danger Mouse recruited her to appear on his Rome which ended up being the three standout tracks on the album. The soccer moms who still have not removed Come Away with Me from their minvans may scratch their heads at the pairing, wondering why Norah Jones is working with the weird dude who was in a group with the even weirder Cee-Lo, but to those of us that continued to follow her career, the pairing is a perfect (or dare I say Perrrfect) match.
With Danger Mouse behind the board, the new Norah Jones album Little Broken Hearts sounds like a continuation of their work together on Rome as they both have a darker, more menacing feel than previous works by Jones. She even kills the title character in Miriam, but does it so smoothly you may not even realize it unless you read the lyrics sheet. Take It Back sound very similar to the Rome song Black when it hits its crescendo at the end with the same style of piano notes. And if I didn’t know better I would have guessed Burton brought in his buddy Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys to play guitar on the trippy blues song All a Dream.
If the title album Little Broken Hearts did not tip you off (or other song titles like Say Goodbye, She’s 22, After the Fall, 4 Broken Hearts, or Travelin’ On) this is her break up album. Thankfully there are no angry kiss off songs like Since U Been Gone as it sounds by the time Jones got around to writing the album she had since moved on to the fifth stage of grief (Reconstruction and working through) and most of the album is her getting all the way up to the seventh and final stage (Acceptance and hope).
As moody and mellow as the album is, it is a bit jarring when she picks up the tempo for Out on the Road nine songs into the album. But that does set things up for the stand out track, the bouncy and snarky Happy Pills (which it what Norah claims she felt as she just took after the break up because she feels so good). The “Out I’m gonna get you, out I’m gonna get you outta of my head, get out” chorus may be the catchiest kiss off since I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair. As Brian Burton ranks up new bands, hopefully Little Broken Hearts is the first of many collaborations with Norah Jones.
Song to Download – Happy Pills
Broken Little Hearts gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.