Definitely an interesting concept for a release. One that features a vast number of tracks Norah Jones has collaborated on. These are of course mostly all other artists songs, that feature Norah Jones as a guest performer.
Right off the bat, I’d love to see this compilation done for Esthero. There was a time around the early 2000s, when she was doing nothing but collaborating with other artists (Black Eyed Peas’ “Weekends”, Nelly Furtado’s “I Feel You”, and even the Blue Man Group’s “White Rabbit” to name a few). Esthero’s voice lends itself very well as a featured performer, of course solo too! The same goes for Nelly Furtado. Also Macy Gray. However I can’t really see it happened for Esthero, as she does not have the Norah Jones star power.
The compilation album starts off with The Little Willies, which is a group featuring Norah Jones. So with that in mind, it really focuses on her musical style. In this case jazz with a country feel to it.
As it is a compilation album, artists she was featured with range from the Foo Fighters, to Q-Tip, to Herbie Hancock, to Willie Nelson, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Therefore the genres found within are quite varied.
Most tracks are indeed featuring Norah Jones, however there are three tracks that are Norah Jones’ songs that feature other guests (“Bull Rider” featuring Sasha Dobson, “Loretta” featuring Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, and “Creepin’ In” featuring Dolly Parton.).
The aforementioned “Bull Rider” is a very good track on its own. Sasha Dobson has been involved in the jazz scene in New York for several years now, and has a couple of albums under her belt. She has also worked with Norah Jones in the past on various side projects. And most recently, she is providing percussion, guitar and vocal harmonies on Norah Jones’ tour promoting The Fall. On “Bull Rider”, their voices work very well together on a country tinged bluegrass track.
The track with OutKast, or Andre 3000 to be more specific, “Take Off Your Cool”, is originally from his portion of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. It finds Andre 3000 toning down his vocals so as to better suit Norah. Not that she could not manage on a standard OutKast track. Whereas one of the other hip hop tracks, “Life Is Better”, Q-Tip has Norah Jones doing the chorus in a more hip hop style, even if the track is fairly laid back, as Q-Tip still raps in the track. Norah does a quite a good job on this track, but to draw from earlier in this review, this is the sort of guest spot where Esthero shines. It is much more in the vein of a smooth hip hop track, not unlike something Guru would have done for the Jazzmatazz series. Similar for the Talib Kweli track, “Soon The New Day”, as it is another mellow track, but does not find Norah straying from her normal vocal style. The latter two are good mellow bouncing hip hop tracks on their own.
“Loretta”, a live track which features Gillian Welch & David Rawlings would not feel out of place on a Norah Jones release. As also would be the case with “Bull Rider”. Of course “Creepin’ In” featuring Dolly Parton is from Norah’s second album, Feels Like Home, but definitely a worthy addition to this compilation.
Individually many tracks work very well on their own, as a compilation, well it is just that, a compilation so genre run a wide gamut. The tracks do seem to be well organised though, making for a decent listen from start to finish. It has been said before numerous times, for numerous releases, and I will reiterate it here. I’d mostly recommend this for fans of Norah Jones. Non fans would probably be better off choosing from one of her four solo albums.