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On April 12, nine-time GRAMMY-winning singer-songwriter Norah Jones is releasing Begin Again, a collection of singles that gathers seven eclectic songs that Jones has recorded over the past year with collaborators including Jeff Tweedy and Thomas Bartlett. Begin Again will be released on 12" vinyl, CD, and as a digital album and features the new song "Just a Little Bit," which was produced by Jones and features her on vocals, piano, and organ along with Brian Blade on drums.
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I don’t understand people’s responses to an album because it’s not like earlier offerings. If you prefer Come Away With Me,Day Breaks or anything in between, go listen to lovely Ms. Jones’ older albums.
Art is change!
I am not nor will I ever be a successful or known musician, but even my style and sound have changed over the past 25+ years of playing; that is to say that all musicians are constantly changing, growing, evolving, exploring, experimenting, extending, embracing, eschewing, exuding, etc... Musicians, as with any artist (e.g. writers, singers, painters, sculptors, dancers, actors...), have to eventually let go of their work, presenting their opus, passionately made though never quite complete because artists can continue to make small changes in their output, probably forever if allowed. No time comes when an artist is finished with a project, but they let go and we enjoy. So, Norah may somewhat agree with certain reasons given by unhappy listeners but this is what she relinquished and it is beautiful, original, eclectic and solely hers.
The huge steps taken by Norah since she began with Come Away With Me have resulted in a jazz, blues and alternative piano infused sound to which she now adds to or removes from what she has composed, heard, learned, loved and created. The use of some effects additions, somewhat like in her Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) collaboration, Little Broken Hearts, filter or lightly pepper her sound and make this unique and ear pleasing submission a welcome addition to Norah’s wonderful catalog.
*I agree with other reviews that state the 7 song count is odd; it’s not quite short enough to be an EP, but not quite long enough to be an album.
I also agree with the reviews that the 7 songs are sufficiently satisfying.
Don’t allow the song count to change your mind. What is here is quality and beautiful.
Her latest work, and EP of seven songs, "Begin Again" is just that--an EP of seven songs. No album here. This would seem to be a golden opportunity for Jones to stretch her artistic wings, but that's not the case here. All seven of the songs are low-key, and as someone else pointed out here, 'minimalistic'. In other words, boring.
For me, the only songs that really stood out to me were "Begin Again" and "Uh-Oh", and they happen to both be mid-tempo songs, the only ones with a pulse on the entire EP. The rest of the songs are okay, but, as I said before, boring.
This seems to be Jones' strength and weakness--her intimate approach to her music makes it at times very interesting, and at other times just plain boring and unmemorable. I see her as more of a singles artist than an album artist. She can make some very good songs that are memorable and meaningful, but many of her songs are just forgettable.
Here's how "Begin Again" scores against her previous works:
2002 Come Away with Me: Three and a Half Stars
2004 Feels Like Home: Three Stars
2007 Not Too Late: Two and a Half Stars
2009 The Fall: Three and a Half Stars
2012 Little Broken Hearts: Four Stars
2016 Day Breaks: Four Stars
2019 Begin Again EP: Two and a Half Stars
I have already played it multiple times and the quality of the vinyl pressing seems very good.
Top international reviews
Not many selections. Should be considered a mini album and not sold as a regular album.
Songs are so-so!
2 months of delay to finally get this vinyl.
7 tracks, about 35 minutes of music.
I think Norah Jones is kidding her audience.
I will definitely return this stuff.