Chaos and the Calm and then some…

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If ever a title has done more justice to an album, it is now. James Bay’s haunting voice echoes in my head while I write this one. Listening to it the first time, one is first impressed by the layers the melody has. The second time, the maturity of each song, hits you like a cool breeze on a warm day!

The beauty of the album is I haven’t really been able to pinpoint the influences of the artist. He doesn’t sound like anyone else. I would call this a new direction for soft rock, then “Best Fake Smile” bursts through the speakers and I think, perhaps this is more rock and roll.

“Let it go” and “Move Together” have become my new favorite rock ballads. In his introduction, he has said he wanted to make music that had real meaning. This he has done with such ease that it’s hard to believe he is a new kid on the block. There is a sense of surety and maturity in each note and each beat. While stand alone, each song rings true, the real meaning of the album unveils itself when you hear the songs in the exact order they appear in the album.

From the chaos of “Craving” to the calm of “Hold back the River” back to the chaos of “Best Fake Smile”, he truly has tried to keep moving in extremes of emotions. But never, not even in the sorrow of “Move Together”, has he seemed unhappy or in pain. This is not an album for the broken hearted, this one is for those who wish for a new day. This one is for those who wish to “keep the peace between the sheets”.

To some up the album’s beautiful simplicity in one phrase, “Why don’t you be you and I’ll be me?

The Song

As they float in
These forlorn notes
They bring about a memory
Of the times you were held close

As the voice spreads out
Through the cracks of the black veil
You wonder why this song
Leaves your heart broken and pale

Then comes the joy
so sweet and contagious
From the heart of the Irishman
A voice so loud yet magnanimous

Some they make you dance
Others make your soul cry
But each one plays some part
In the story of your life

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Little Broken Hearts: of pain, revenge and strength

Revenge is, as they say, best served cold. Thus, the icy cool and calculated revenge hinted in “Happy Pills” by Norah Jones from her latest album released this May is a refreshing change from the slow serenade often associated with her. She teases and almost reaches darkness with her words and strong overtones.

The makeover was long overdue. It started with collaboration with Danger Mouse in “Rome” where she is the fallen heart. Little Broken Hearts is a story of the slow decay of a relationship. “She’s 22”, my personal favorite, has a vengeful and yet vulnerable quality about it.

The songs are refreshingly mature and are perhaps Norah’s best work yet. The electronic jazz-like quality proves she isn’t afraid to venture into unexplored territory. I had never been a fan of Jones for I always thought she lacked variation. The lyrical power of the songs makes you a part of the story at the very first listen. The video of “Happy Pills” is perhaps the best representation of the album. It is sexy, classy and vengeful in every way. The song appears much later though in the evolution of the album. I would suggest listening to the songs in the exact order for they tell a story. A dark one, one of mystery, anger and suppressed rage, the story is pretty simple but the emotion has so many layers to it. One starts to picture the relationship breaking down right in front of you.

“Travelin’ on” speaks of moving on with strength. Each song is symbolic of the emotion you feel starting with the realization of infidelity down to the revenge. The beauty of the story lies in the sexy undertone of slow and calculated revenge. For all those who wrote off Norah Jones as the bore she used be (including me), this one is set to make you sit up and take notice. It’s bold, mature and creative contemporary jazz at its very best.

The video oh “Happy Pills” is what drew me in. I hope it does the same to you. “Miriam” only takes the story  one step further. To me, it’s almost shocking someone could write as darkly and get away with it with such class and do a perfect job of it! “All a Dream” is an abrupt ending to the musical but its rhythmic power is enough to hold the song good on its own.

The best thing about the collection is that I could picture a musical right in front of me with each and every song. Poetry, music and fiction all contribute to the freshness of the album. An eternal addition to my collection. Hope it makes it to yours too…