Picks and Pans Review: Feels Like Home

updated 02/23/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/23/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

Norah Jones

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On the lovely "Those Sweet Words," one of 13 tracks on Norah Jones's sophomore CD, she warmly sings, "I'm just glad to see you again." The feeling is mutual, Norah. On this much anticipated follow-up to Jones's Grammy-sweeping, 8-million-selling debut, 2002's Come Away with Me, the singer-songwriter-pianist once again hits all the right notes with her smoky-voiced stylings. The disc, featuring some songs Jones and her band have already road-tested on tour last year, finds the 24-year-old continuing to be right at Home with the classic sounds of jazz, blues, country and saloon pop. After the decidedly mellow mood of Come Away with Me, Jones kicks things off on a more upbeat tone with the shimmering "Sunrise." The song trots along with an easy gallop as Jones, at her sultry best, sings about seeing "morning in your eyes." Many of the tracks, like "Sunrise," have a rootsy country vibe. The foot-stomping "Creepin' In," which features an inspired guest vocal by Dolly Parton, with her trademark tremolo, and some neat picking by guitarist Kevin Breit, has an almost bluegrass feel. As with everything Jones does, however, these country accents are ever so subtle. In addition to 10 originals written by Jones and her touring band, which provides tasteful backing throughout, the album includes well-chosen covers of Tom Waits and Townes Van Zandt tunes. Even better is Jones's reworking of the Duke Ellington instrumental "Melancholia," which she retitled "Don't Miss You at All," adding her own appropriately melancholy lyrics: "I hear children playin', laughin' so loud/ I don't think of your smile," she sings forlornly. The highlight, though, is "Humble Me," a delicate, resonator-guitar-laced ballad written by Breit. When Jones achingly sings, "It never rains when you want it to," you'll be humbled by her graceful, unassuming talent.


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