Release Date: 11/16/2010
Blue Note/EMI Records
It took a couple spins, but …Featuring Norah Jones is officially stuck on me. Yes, stuck on me…ok stuck like glue. Norah Jones gets clever with the title of the album, not so surprising considering the amazing music she creates. The entire …Featuring album is chop-full of duets with artists from Q Tip, Talib Kweli, Foo Fighters, and Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. It’s eclectic to say the least.
Not all of the material is brand spanking new. This collection of collaborations ranges from 2001 to 2010. Yet, I am so glad Norah released an entire album dedicated to her best collaborations and didn’t leave it for fans to buy on separate releases.
The real highlights of …Featuring are “Dear John,” “Bull Rider,” and “Creepin’ In.” By far the best is “Dear John,” which Norah wrote with Ryan Adams. It’s the melancholy short of a woman who was left alone by her love, thus the title, Dear John. It’s just raw and so off-kilter that it’s perfect. Norah talks about working with Ryan and how “Dear John” came about. She said, “I was kind of depressed because I was having trouble writing so Ryan came over and we wrote this song really quickly. He was so encouraging. He’s the reason I got over that hump and being so, self-conscious about my writing. He called me to come into the studio a few months later and I hadn’t really played the song since. We played through it once and I was like ‘OK, we’ll get together,’ and he said, ‘Nope, we got it.’ You can hear all the creaking in the piano bench, there’s some wrong notes, but it was a great take.”
The other two shining stars on the collection are “Creepin’ In” and “Bull Rider.” Both songs are country driven… short, sweet and to the point. Dolly Parton and Norah don’t seem like the most likely pair in “Creepin’ In,” but it works and works brilliantly. The catchy chorus and simple acoustic guitar riff make for a toe tapping rhythm. “Bull Rider” starts with Sasha Dobson, a singer who Norah has played with in two bands, Puss N’ Boots and The Sloppy Joannes. Similar to “Creepin’ In” a simple acoustic guitar riff drives the entire song. Norah notes that in this song, “I played lead guitar, which is hilarious because I’m very limited.” The fact Norah is “limited” in the guitar department really enabled the ladies to harmonize and create a hit that Johnny Cash himself once recorded himself. The song was originally written by Rodney Crowell.
I must say that I was least impressed with the Willie Nelson rendition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” I am not a big Willie Nelson fan, but putting that aside, the song just doesn’t fit on the album. I see this as a Christmas song and it really doesn’t flow well with the track listing.
As a collection of star studded duets …Featuring works and makes for some great music to relax to on a Saturday afternoon. Especially if listen to “Virginia Moon” by the Foo Fighter. I think Dave Grohl will have more lady fans fawning over him after people get a whiff of that track. Dave Grohl lends his rugged vocals to a string ballad that can make a girl swoon. You can pre-order the album at Amazon.com HERE.