(4 out of 5)
You really can’t help but like her. Even though your parents are totally in love with her, and her music blares — okay, wafts — from the speakers of every yuppie boutique and cafe, you’ve gotta admit that there’s something about Norah Jones that keeps you from writing her off as just another vaporous accompaniment to your next latte. With THE FALL, Jones actually manages to hone in quite a bit on that “something.” Thanks to arrangements that accentuate the increasing smokiness of her voice as well as her deep affection for American roots music, Jones’ fourth album is by far her most honest-sounding and raw. Having long since moved past the post-jazz chanteuse vibe evoked on COME AWAY WITH ME, Jones has spent the last half of the decade delving deeper and deeper into the entwined sonic histories of jazz, blues, and country music; THE FALL finds her explicitly referencing the latter of those three, collaborating with Ryan Adams, Will Sheff (Okkervil River) and others to create an engrossing and upbeat album that allows a bit of Jones’ Texas roots to show through.