Launching an irregular department of New and/or NTM (new-to-me), or RTI (’round-to-it) records; ’NTM’ can be items that might be old, but I’ve just discovered; RTI might be records I’ve been playing for a while, or for ages, or something just recovered in one of my fitful episodes of filing.
• Norah Jones: Day Breaks (Blue Note Records) New
A few months ago I was surprised to get a Norah Jones single from Blue Note, which of course is a jazz label. Norah is not a country singer, though she has recorded country songs. The single featured a song Norah wrote, called “Carry On,” and it had a country feel (despite a jazz arrangement and an almost countrypolitan chorus); I played it on the show.
The whole album finally arrived a couple of weeks ago. It contains mostly songs written or co-written by Norah. Her singing is lovely, as usual; most of the songs are languid, loungy, quiet. It makes pleasant listening, but—it’s not country. Besides “Carry On,” I might try Neil Young’s “Dont Be Denied,” and maybe one or two others, but that’s it for HAH. Color me disappointed: a Miss, but not for Norah Jones fans.
• Becky Warren: War Surplus (no label) New
Every time I hear this it gets more country. The album’s being marketed as Americana, but if you want “three chords and the truth,” here it is. The album is not light, though there is an undercurrent of cynical humor (“Three thousand miles from a decent beer”). It’s 12 songs that are snapshots of a relationship between a rough girl named June (“Call Me Sometime”) and a infantryman named Scott, who cames home from Iraq shell-shocked (now called ‘PTSD’) and finds it all falling apart (“Anything That Lasts”):
Heaven help me, I don’t know what’s wrong/
I went away and came back gone.
I can’t play that one, the last song on the album, because it uses the four-letter s-word, so you’ll have to buy the album to hear it. And you should. The writing is brilliant, the singing is compelling, and you’ll experience a lot you haven’t thought about, or maybe buried somewhere. A definite Hit. Available HERE.