With seven years, several Grammys, and one Wong Kar-wai movie under her belt since her ubiquitous debut (Come Away With Me), Norah Jones releases her fourth record to a musical landscape dominated by panty-flashing, futuristic electro, which makes her laid-back, jazzy pop seem a little bit tame.
Thankfully, The Fall, in its own quiet way, is a stylistic departure from her previous work: Jones swaps her piano for a guitar, and producer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Modest Mouse) adds a shimmering, pepped-up sound to the record. But let’s be honest—it’s still mellow, polite pop, which breaks few rules and sometimes bores but more often impresses. Although Ryan Adams and Okkervil River’s Will Sheff lend their songwriting skills, Jones is strongest when she writes alone, particularly on the bluesy “You’ve Ruined Me,” which sounds equally vulnerable and defiant, and with the lyrical sweetness of “December,” which displays her cool, clear voice at its best.
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