More so a homage to her collaborations with talented artists than a new release, Norah Jones’ forthcoming …Featuring shows where Norah has been in the past decade or so. If you have been following her career at all, you won’t be surprised to find her collection to be wide and diverse. Norah has such a distinctively deep timbre that literally feels good to listen to; it’s no wonder her musical peers continue to seek out her vocal prowess.
“It’s so exciting and flattering and fun when I get asked to sing with somebody that I admire,” says Jones. “It takes you a little bit out of your comfort zone when you’re doing something with another artist. You don’t know what to expect—it’s kind of like being a little kid and having a playdate.”
Some favorites on the album are Q-Tip and Norah on “Life is Better” off of Tips’ 2008 album The Renaissance and “Soon the New Day” off of Talib Kweli’s 2007 Eardrum. On both tracks, her voice dances around the beats like a billow of smoke giving everything a shade of Norah. Talib and Q-Tip throw down rhythmic flows that blend into the scene giving the tracks a fitting balance.
Other tracks include collaborations with Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, the Foo Fighters, Sean Bones, The Little Willies, Sasha Dobson, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, El Madmo, OutKast, Belle & Sebastian, Gillian Wlech and David Rowlings, Dolly Parton, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Hunter, and M. Ward. Norah’s vocals are a distinctive addition to the wide gamut of musical sources. Whether it’s Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, or Talib, Norah is able to adapt herself to any setting thrown at her. Moreover, Norah admits, these interactions have helped her with her own albums. “Q-Tip wanted me to sing a really high part. The track was there, so they couldn’t change the key. I think it inspired me to do a little more of that on my next record.”
At times, Jones was even petrified, such as in the case of working with legend Ray Charles, but it doesn’t show in her performance. Some of the tracks, like the latter or the stirring bossa nova “Virginia Moon,” with Dave Grohl, are traditional duets. Other times, Norah serves in more of a guest artist capacity. In either setting, Norah’s voice is a recognizable gem within the track. …Featuring gives listeners an unmatched chance at exploring Norah’s versatility and evolution through the entirety of her career. Hopefully this look into where Norah has been will lead to another few decades of genre-defying collaborations.
Words by Eric Sandler