Little Broken Hearts
May 21, 2012 Web Exclusive
One of the many frustrating things about Norah Jones is what appears to be a total unwillingness to push herself beyond her lyrical and vocal comfort zones. She's a gifted vocalist, a good-enough pianist, and a gracious performer, and yet—without exception—her first four studio albums sound like one long, tiresome song. So when it was revealed that the new Norah Jones album, Little Broken Hearts, was produced and co-written by Danger Mouse (Beck, Gnarls Barkley, The Rapture, Broken Bells, Gorillaz, etc.), it seemed like a great opportunity to convince skeptics that Norah Jones is probably very capable of making something other than vanilla, Grammy Award-winning, mushy, mellow, mom-rock.
Alas, it appears that opportunity was wasted. Little Broken Hearts might be the most boring Norah Jones album to date. And because this is an album review, a track-by-track analysis would ordinarily be appropriate, but it's just better and easier to say that, like everything she's done before, the material presented here is some of the safest, most inoffensive, and unobjectionable pop music on planet Earth. And while Danger Mouse's innovative and creative touch makes Little Broken Hearts far and away Jones' most sonically interesting record, he makes almost no substantive improvement to the songwriting.
It's not a bad album; it's totally fine. Just fine. Perhaps it's unfair to expect more from Norah Jones, because she does this type of thing really well, and millions of people seem to love it. But we have verifiable proof that Danger Mouse is capable of much, much more, and his presence-and underperformance—on Little Broken Hearts turns what might otherwise just be another safe but bullshit-free Norah Jones album into an especially underwhelming affair. (www.norahjones.com)
Author rating: 4/10
Average reader rating: 7/10