norah jones // "happy pills"
by jared silva
Norah Jones has made platinum selling album after platinum selling album since her debut back in 2002. She has no need to really innovate at all in order to release a successful album at this point. If she did her normal smooth pop vocal gig for the next 20 years, she could make a real easy living. Luckily, she’s gotten a little closer with successful Gnarls Barkley and Broken Bells producer Danger Mouse, especially since he’s now co-producing her next new album. And with her first single dropping recently, it’s good to know that she is ready to try some new sounds that she is not necessarily known for and even better that they really work.
As far as Danger Mouse’s production goes, right away it’s noticeable that this is his beat through and through. It has a familiarity to it that’s reminiscent of his extensive past production work, but he plays it a tad safe here. It’s maybe even a little bit too on the nose for what Danger Mouse is used to making, to the point that after a couple close listens, it sounds too much like the same beat from “The Ghost Inside,” a track he produced for his last Broken Bells album, but just a little slower and lighter on the bass line. Add simple Norah Jones-sung melodic na-na-na’s to the mix and it separates itself enough to not seem too obvious but it’s still on the simple side. Simple also describes the lyrics to this song: a simple narrative of a girl trying to forget a stupid boy of her past affection. “I’m gonna get you out of my head” she sings as she describes the proverbial “happy pills” she takes to forget him. Pretty straight forward with nothing really straying too far from the pop 101 book of general song ideas. But Norah Jones’ sultry jazz vocals are always the obvious showcase of her songs, and even on top of a tame hip-hop Danger Mouse beat, it’s a slight change up that fits her style nicely, no matter how basic may sound. As seen on their past collaboration, Rome, a spaghetti western experimental project also featuring film composer Daniele Luppi and Jack White, Norah sounds great outside of her standard pop/jazz singer-songwriter confounds.
“Happy Pills,” as well as the rest of her next album …Little Broken Hearts, will surely take that newer route with Danger Mouse producing alongside Norah and hopefully, compared to her straight forward contemporary style, create something that sounds really fresh. A couple good pop hooks here and there keep her grounded with what she’s generally comfortable with and keeps it routine enough with the general public’s pop taste to attract the most people possible. It’s a solid step in a new direction for Norah Jones and hopefully it’ll stick once her new album drops later this Spring.
…Little Broken Hearts will release on 5/1 via Blue Note and EMI.
Listen to more from Norah Jones now, via Spotify