Norah Jones's Come Away With Me
is a stylish, jazz-flecked album that's become an unexpected pop hit (selling for about $10 has surely helped). Produced by Atlantic Records legend Arif Mardin, this polished, sensual CD is about insinuation rather than power; vocalist-pianist Jones and her key backups, bassist Lee Alexander and guitarist Jesse Harris, craft hooky, noir songs that go down sexy, easy, sophisticated -- and a tad too languid. Whether Jones has staying power remains to be seen; what's apparent now is the marketing prowess and cachet of her storied jazz label, Blue Note, and her publicity machine.
Jones's piano is effective, her voice memorable, and originals such as "I've Got to See You Again" and the haunting "Lonestar" suggest a maturity beyond her 23 years. Jones is to jazz what Alicia Keys is to soul: close enough to the real thing to attract true believers and young fans alike. Besides the originals, Jones's album includes covers of tunes by Hank Williams and Hoagy Carmichael, furthering a strategy similar to that of fellow Blue Note artist, jazz-blues earth-mother Cassandra Wilson. Unlike Wilson, however, Jones is a commercial success. Think being white and exotic and young figures in that?