Norah Jones
Little Broken Hearts


4.5
superb

Review

by Brendan Schroer STAFF
October 11th, 2012 | 39 replies | 4,371 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A game-changer, Little Broken Hearts sees Norah Jones exploring new horizons with fantastic results.

Despite being considered one of America's most endearing singers in recent memory, Norah Jones' first 3 albums were the equivalent of being a "typecast" actor. Take somebody like Jason Statham, for example; once he became an established action actor, that seemed to be the only genre he was working with, with the Transporter series, The Bank Job, and such. Once Jones created her special fusion of pop, smooth jazz, and folk, which wowed people in the early 2000's, Norah Jones became trapped within her genre for the next two records; only a few variations here and there were applied to her tried-and-true formula.

That's why it was a refreshing surprise when her fourth album The Fall came out, as it blended previous influences with a strong electric property; a much more hard rock-oriented sound was incorporated, and it was quite a shock to hear Jones switch so suddenly. This brings us to 2012's Little Broken Hearts, which was produced by prominent songwriter/musician Danger Mouse. How does the record compare, though, to Jones' previous efforts?

As with the previous album, Little Broken Hearts is another big twist, actually sounding nearly nothing like Jones' original sound that made her so popular. However, this helps more than it hurts; what we get is a more indie-based pop/rock album with folk elements and a strong sense of atmosphere to help what the music and lyrics are trying to achieve. The album is relatively short, but that's a good thing here because any dragging feeling is reduced greatly.

Danger Mouse's production is perhaps what makes this record's subject matter so effective. The general concept of the album is that Norah Jones loses a lover and finds that she's better off without him in the long run. The mix of DM's atmospheric soundscapes, strong instrumentation, and Jones' delivery are what really heighten the drama of her emotions and reactions on this subject. Take "Travelin' On" for instance; a simple acoustic strumming pattern is accompanied with a very dark, brooding cello line that makes everything seem more melancholic and engrossing.

The highlights of the album would have to be opener "Good Morning," "4 Broken Hearts," and "Miriam." "Good Morning" is a very humble opener with extremely layered synthesizer work but quiet, beautiful guitar strumming. The sound is very warm compared to later songs on the album, and Jones' voice is extremely welcoming, as if she wants to personally take the listener on the journey the record provides. "4 Broken Hearts," on the other hand, is way more haunting and cold-hearted. The chorus offers some sentimentality with a reflection on the past relationship, but the guitar chords are more abrasive and the bass work is more sparse. "Miriam" is possibly the most intense and unorthodox Norah Jones song ever created, with a darkly hollow acoustic guitar motif and the vocals sounding heavily echoed and... well, creepy. In fact, the lyrics are about Jones killing her ex's lover and taking her original life back with him. Overall, though, the song is one of her best, and provides a thrilling emotional charge to boot.

Little Broken Hearts may not sound like a typical Norah Jones album, but that's what makes it so exciting. It takes cues from a more diverse selection of artists and infuses Jones' personality and charm to make the product entirely unique. This one's a keeper.



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user ratings (54)
Chart.
3.6
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Chrisjon89
October 11th 2012



3386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review man. Pos'd. I like the album but not as keen as you. I love her voice so much but wish she'd mix things up a bit more vocally or something over the course of an album.

Working with Dangermouse worked pretty well though. I gotta listen again.

Digging: Ichiko Aoba - 0%

Chrisjon89
October 11th 2012



3386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

the album cover is cool too.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
October 11th 2012



4383 Comments


I loved her on Danger Mouse's Rome. Her voice on "Season's Trees" was ethereal. I've heard a few tracks from this and its pretty good too, though need to listen to it in full.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
October 11th 2012



15341 Comments


Thanks for reviewing this. Underrated record.

Digging: Astronauts - Hollow Ponds

WashboardSuds
October 11th 2012



4984 Comments


this is sitting on my ipod collecting dust. maybe I should listen to it now

taylormemer
October 11th 2012



4913 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah awesome record

Ecnalzen
October 11th 2012



6398 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've always been interested in Norah Jones, but I've never really listened to her stuff besides the occasional single. I think it's one of those things where I'm not sure if I actually like her music or just find her really attractive. Maybe it's both...

Also, cool review. Pos'd.

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
October 11th 2012



4507 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

sunrise was a good song, man

Ecnalzen
October 11th 2012



6398 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

32? Damn, she doesn't look it. I got interested after I saw the Chasing Pirates video a while back. I think that was the first time she had shorter hair and I thought she was gorgeous in it. The song was good too.

What would be a good starting point if I wanted to check out some more of her music in your opinion?

Ecnalzen
October 11th 2012



6398 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Alright, cool. Thanks, I appreciate it.

ExcentrifugalForz
February 2nd 2013



1613 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If NJ's back catalog is this good I've seriously misjudged her. This album is chill and I always assumed her music was just soccer mom viagra.

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2013



9724 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

^ Honestly, that's just the public's perception of her music. Her back catalog is great too, with the exception of Not Too Late which was really mediocre

Ecnalzen
April 14th 2013



6398 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Finally getting around to listening to this now. This feels very different than the other two albums I have by her. I am liking it though.

Ecnalzen
May 22nd 2013



6398 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Holy holy shit fuck ass. I fucking love this.

You, Necrotica. I like you. You have shown me the way.

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
June 1st 2013



9724 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Haha, glad you checked it out, bro! Just bumped my rating myself. Honestly, listening to this again, I can safely say I've never heard anything quite like this record. You know that rare record you listen to where there's something drastically different and unique about it but you can't put your finger on it? That's what this is for me. But at the same time, I love it for that :]

Ecnalzen
June 3rd 2013



6398 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agreed.

I feel similar about GOTYE. I love most of the stuff I have heard by him, but I don't know why, and it makes it all the more fascinating.

Greyvy
January 12th 2014



4089 Comments


the chorus to say goodbye >>>> my life right now

Digging: Trance To The Sun - Atrocious Virgin

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2014



9724 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Something about this album still hits me in a way I can't explain. I don't know if it's the production or songwriting, but there's a feeling that I've never felt with any other record. I feel a combination of deep sadness, nostalgia, love, and a pinch of happiness all in one record. It's really beautiful and doesn't even feel real. It feels almost ethereal

ExcentrifugalForz
February 13th 2014



1613 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

is it just me or does the track Little Broken Hearts have a passing resemblance to the Shankill Butchers by the Decemberists?

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2014



9724 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Yeah, I see what you mean



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