'Feels Like Home' is Norah Jones follow up one of the most succesful albums of the new millenium, 'Come Away With Me', which sold 18-20 million. It was also highly praised critically- winning 8 Grammies. The albums success lied in Norah's enticing voice and its crossover genre of jazz with elements of folk and soul. Generally follow ups to such successful debuts are limp affairs and suffer from comparison made to their superior predecessors. 'Feels Like Home', however, is an exception to this trend, managing in my opinion to outstrip 'Come Away With Me' by quite some way.
How do you out do one of the most popular albums of recent times? Well you make a different one. Instead of simply replicating her previous successes Jones intelligently decided to opt for more of a country vibe to this album. But don't let this put you off, its still folksy jazz theres just a pervading country sound to most of the tracks. The album also has an understated feel to it, theres nothing pretentious about it, which really helps make this, like the best albums, a very personal affair- very much the feeling you get from singer songwriters like James Taylor or Elliott Smith. This feeling is aided by the sparse instrumentation- often only an acoustic guitar or piano backs Jones' superb sultry vocals.
'Sunrise' was the albums lead single and sure enough its among the albums best tracks with its melodic hum of 'ahooahoo'. Although having said this, almost no tracks really leap out from the group since they are almost uniformly flawless, 'Toes' is perhaps the only track to suffer from comparison to the rest of the albums brilliance. 'In The Morning' has a similar waking up calmness to it but this time the tune is carried by a organ/electric piano solos and has very much a blues sound to it. The self penned 'What I Am To You' is another song you feel must have been a jazz staple such is its effortless charm and classic sound. 'Those Sweet Words' is Jones in 'Come Away With Me' mode and was another of the albums singles.
'Creepin' In' is perhaps the albums real all out country song with a fast rhythm and Dolly Parton adding some great vocals on the chorus which give it an added edge and insistency. The slower paced 'The Long Way Home' is in my opinion the best of the more country-like tracks of the album. The verses have a train like Johnny Cash style rhythm to them and the lyrics are simple yet effective- the harmony on the chorus is really what makes it for me though. Its incidently one of the few covers on the album (Originally Tom Waits)
Perhaps the strongest song on the album is saved for last- 'Dont Miss You At All' and appopriately its just Jones and her piano. Its got some really evocative imagery- ' As I Sit And Watch The Snow Falling Down, I Dont Miss You At All'. These lyrics were added by Jones to an old Duke Ellington song called 'Melancholia'.
Overall this album is consistently superb with almost every track boasting superb lyrics, appropriate instrumentation and a calming, though sometimes melancholic, effect. Like 'Come Away With Me' it is expertly produced, nothing ever sounds like it needed any more or less of something. You could easily imagine most of the material being jazz staples in years to come. Some mentioned that 'Come Away With Me' was a little too 'samey', however, I really feel they miss the point- this album isn't meant to be revolutionary or bombastic- its just a collection of intimate jazz songs. I say 'just', most of the greatest songwriters say that at the end of the day all they are trying to do is create a simple, classic pop song which isn't by any means an easy task- and in effect this album is trumps in these. It is, though, a more diverse and ambitious album than 'Come Away With Me'. It also shows Jones maturing as a song writer, though its a team effort with contributions from her experienced band.
The album sold slightly less than 'Come Away With Me', ringing in at 12 million. This isn't a reflection of diminishing quality though. 'Feels Like Home' really is a better album than her debut and is consistently an enjoyable, calming album with barely one dud track and is among my favourites of the decade thus far.
In The Morning
Don't Miss You At All