When Norah Jones released her debut disc, Come Away With Me, on Blue Note Records in February 2002, the then 22-year-old singer had no idea the album would be a best-seller. In fact, she kept her expectations low. “I like having low expectations, ‘cause then if something turns out well, you’re always surprised in a good way,” says Jones at Sear Studios in New York while doing the final mixes on her new album.
As it turns out, Jones enjoyed an abundance of surprises. A runaway hit, Come Away With Me became a multi-Grammy winner, multi-platinum seller and opened the door for her to perform around the world with her band. Her producer Arif Mardin surmises that the CD was a tipping-point album. “People were ready for heartfelt music,” he says, while working with Jones on the mixes. “Norah is in the vanguard of another kind of pop music listeners have been yearning for. We’re now in a period of time where listeners are looking for real artists.”
Norah Jones returns to the heartfelt on the eagerly anticipated Feels Like Home, her new Blue Note album. The collection features the singer-songwriter-pianist once again teaming with Mardin, engineer Jay Newland and her close-knit touring band. Jones has penned several songs"by herself and with songwriting partner Lee Alexander"gathered other songs from her band mates and friends, and delivers three covers: Townes Van Zandt’s “Be Here To Love Me,” Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan’s “The Long Way Home” and Duke Ellington’s “Melancholia,” which she wrote lyrics to and retitled “Don’t Miss You At All.”
Feels Like Home was recorded in two sessions. Last April Jones and her band convened in an upstate New York studio and worked on new songs, including some they had been performing in concert. After an extensive U.S. summer tour, everyone reassembled in New York City to revisit the tracks already recorded, work on different arrangements that had been road-tested and add new numbers to the mix.
On the disc, Jones plays piano, Wurlitzer electric piano and pump organ and features her core group, comprising guitarists Adam Levy and Kevin Breit, background vocalist Daru Oda, bassist Lee Alexander and drummer Andrew Borger. She also brings aboard a select short-list of guests, including Dolly Parton, drummer Levon Helm and organist/accordionist Garth Hudson of The Band, long-time friends guitarists Jesse Harris and Tony Scherr, drummer Brian Blade and keyboardist Rob Burger.
Mardin oversaw the production and again watched Jones work her magic. “These new songs have been a wonderful journey. This album is not about synthesizers or computers. It’s about Norah being au natural. She doesn’t need pitch correction. She’s always in tune, and her voice always touches you. Millions of people around the world feel the same way.”