Music News

Norah Jones

The long list of worthy artists who have never won Grammys includes the Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. Norah Jones, on the other hand, took home five in one night, most for the 2002 song "Don't Know Why" -- a title that pretty much sums up her sweep of the awards' major categories. Of course, Christopher Cross, whose music qualifies under the Supreme Court definition of "cruel and unusual punishment," did likewise in 1980, only to begin "Sailing" into obscurity shortly thereafter. Given that Feels Like Home, Jones's latest release, debuted at the top of the Billboard pop-album chart, she certainly won't disappear quite as promptly. Yet her work is so vaporous that it's hard to notice even under the best of circumstances.

The video for "Sunrise," Home's first single, plays like an episode of Teletubbies, which is oddly appropriate considering that the album, like the clip, is meant to be as soothing as a pat on the head from a loving guardian. Throughout, the backup musicians, coyly dubbed the Handsome Band, provide low-key accompaniment over which Jones coos with tasteful casualness. "In the Morning" features her version of bluesiness -- she's less Howlin' Wolf than Purrin' Kitty -- while "Creepin' In" only serves to demonstrate how much less vibrant her voice is than that of Dolly Parton, her duet partner on the cut.

Then again, vitality isn't something most Jones fans are seeking. Feels Like Home may not be quite as sleepy as those generic new-age CDs people choose because of their pastoral covers instead of the music beneath them, but it comes close. If the Grammys inaugurate a Best Sleep Aid contest, she'll win in a snooze.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts