From early on I can remember being exposed to some of the most sultry, enticing female voices. Between Anita Baker, Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell; I’ve had the luxury of getting to hear a sampling of the blues, jazz, soul and folk before having to endure the likes of Raffi or whatever kids’ genre musicians who were approved for general consumption…Ok maybe I Raffi came first but the ladies came to mind first. Yet, the woman whose singing I found most inviting and seemed to carry characteristics of each of the previously mentioned singers was the lady I always thought Stan Lee modeled Rogue off of: Bonnie Raitt.
Bonnie Raitt - Angel From Montgomery: http://hypem.com/track/1khq1/Bonnie+Raitt+-+Angel+From+Montgomery
Holy shit, anything she sang off of “Nick of Time” would pretty much have me locked in - whether it was a soft acoustic love song like I Can’t Make You Love Me and then she’d ratchet things up with Thing Called Love. It wasn’t enough that she had me engrossed with her slight raspiness, but add a little of that steel slide guitar and you can tell why she’s been one of my all-time favorites for quite some time.
Bonnie Raitt - I Can’t Make You Love Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW9Cu6GYqxo&ob=av2e
Bonnie Raitt (at Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame) - Thing Called Love: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vqrQ_47B4U&feature=related
Then again, I needed some reminding since I’ve been (ahem) a bit distracted to pay attention to her previous release (“Souls Alike”, 2005). But as soon as I heard about “Slipstream” on NPR, I needed to have a listen. And I heard it…it was the same voice I grew up to, as if it were 1989 and she came out with an immediate follow up to “Nick of Time”. And in an almost expected stroke of genius, she rolled out a perfected cover of the Gerry Rafferty classic, Right Down The Line. ‘Ohhhh Baby!’
Bonnie Raitt - Right Down the Line: http://soundcloud.com/bonnie-raitt/right-down-the-line
That’s when I turned back to NPR Music for more and saw Norah Jones was about to release her new album after a sea change in her style had occurred since linking up with Danger Mouse as a producer. I first paid attention to her music when I heard a song off of her collaboration album ” …Featuring” from 2010, on which she paired with the Foo Fighters - Virginia Moon.
Norah Jones w/ Foo Fighters - Virginia Moon: http://soundcloud.com/mohamed-a-sharif/foo-fighters-featuring-norah-jones-virginia-moon
Ever since then I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve heard and it fell right into line with the aforementioned style of female vocalists with her breathy, voluptuous delivery. On “Rome” with Danger Mouse and Danielle Luppi she had taken part in the Spaghetti Western revival/tribute album, in which I feel I can hear a bit of a toned down Shirley Bassey (am I crazy?…sure).
Danielle Luppi, Danger Mouse & Norah Jones - Black: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xni35x_danger-mouse-daniele-luppi-black-feat-norah-jones_music
Propellerheads w/ Shirley Bassey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE_1tCasi_Q
So this new album “Little Broken Hearts” has had a similar effect as Bonnie Raitt’s “Slipstream”…I get drawn in by the aural delights of her voice and then stay to hear the appropriate orchestral accompaniment (thank you, Danger Mouse). Furthermore I enjoyed the how the album portrayed a single theme amidst an array of tones from sad and exhausted to relieved and resilient. …If you get a chance, listen to the whole album streaming from the guardian music blog while its available… It’s certainly has the quality of an album I’ll be hearing for years to come and it doesn’t hurt to have the throwback album cover to enjoy while listening.
Norah Jones - Little Broken Heart stream (limited time?): http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2012/apr/16/norah-jones-little-broken-hearts-stream