WITH ME (Blue Note)
I liked this record and this artist right away. I don't see what's particularly jazz about it, but I'm not losing any sleep over that. Let the genre doctors dissect that one, this is another very good very young artist who is blurring and bending the boundaries. Some define and some defy the lines drawn so we can understand our culture.
Norah was charming live in Nashville at The Belcourt Theater a few months back, she had her bassist Lee Alexander with her, who wrote three of the fine tunes on this disc. My favorite four tunes were written by her guitarist Jesse Harris. This is a singer songwriter record, and that is the timbre of it. The artist so far is not a prolific songwriter, but a lovely singer and a good pianist, she carries herself well on her instrument. She also happens to be a beautiful looking person, and is currently #1 on the Jazz chart.
Norah's got a wonderful way with the classics, she really sells J.D. Loudermilk's "Turn Me On," and especially live I enjoyed her jazzy version of Hank Williams' "Cold Cold Heart." Hoagy Carmichael's "The Nearness of You," she kills it. She has poise and moves far beyond her years, and could be the next very big thing. I don't know the artist, but friends in common say she is truly a wonderful girl, so I share that, for what it's worth, which is a lot.
Two excellent drummers set the tone, Brian Blade and Dan Reiser. Bassist Lee Alexander is completely in tune with the singer, as is guitarist Jesse Harris. A handful of other sharp guitar players drop in: Adam Levy (who played excellently with the artist in Nashville), Kevin Breit, Adam Rogers, and the inimitable Bill Frisell. The producer and arranger of occasional strings is the legendary Arif Mardin.
Diana Krall blazed a wide trail here, but this artist may be headed for Sarah McLachlan territory. Check her out on our Listen page. FG