Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Jun 5th 2012 3:00PM by Sarah Kurchak
Larry Busacca, Getty
"You go through this range of emotions and you feel a little crazy sometimes because you have such drastically different emotions from day to day, but we all go through it," Jones tells Spinner. "And you drive your friends crazy talking about it, you over-analyze it and once you're done with it, you can move on."
And, if you're a multi-platinum selling, critically-acclaimed and Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter with one of the most impressive rolodexes in the music business, sometimes you take a break from driving your friends crazy to collaborate with them instead.
For her latest album, Little Broken Hearts, Jones turned to her buddy Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, the prolific and oddball genius producer behind the Grey Album, Danger Doom and one half of Gnarls Barkley. The pair bonded both personally and professionally during the making of Rome, Danger Mouse's dreamy Italian film-inspired album with film composer Daniele Luppi in 2011 and Jones was eager to work with him in a more extensive capacity.
Burton suggested that they write and record everything together over a brief period of time last summer and Jones dove in.
"I went in with nothing, no idea what it was going to sound like," the sultry singer recalls.
She didn't go into the studio intending to write a breakup record, but the intimacy of the situation did lend itself to writing about what she was going through at the time.
"Brian and I are good friends and we became very close," says Jones with a smile. "It's not like we were talking politics, necessarily. I've had those moments where I've been inspired by things like that and it just wasn't that summer."
Jones began writing songs that captured all of the drastically different emotions of a breakup, from resignation ("Good Morning") and wry detachment ("She's 22") to abject sadness ("Take It Back") and even a better-off-without-you anthem ("Happy Pills"). The songs started to weave together into Little Broken Hearts, and the accidental concept album about heartbreak was born.
'I think it became a bit of a concept album, but it really wasn't supposed to be," she says. "I think something about writing in such a short period of time made the songs so much more connected than accumulating songs over a year or two. We were in there every day doing this and I guess they just ended up being connected because of that."
As with any good breakup, Little Broken Hearts also indulges in a little bit of vengeance, particularly in the standout track "Miriam," in which the usually sweet Jones coos a soft but disturbing murder ballad to the other woman. Already, the song has caused a bit of a stir, both positive and negative. The extent of the response has come as a surprise to Jones.
"It's just a song," she shrugs. "Some people think it's funny, some people get really uncomfortable and people are just like 'Yeah! I love it.' It's kind of funny how differently people react."
"Miriam" might come as a shock to anyone who still thinks of Nora Jones as the sweet young woman who enticed everyone to come away with her a decade ago, but for those who have heard her menacingly purr the f word for Mike Patton's Peeping Tom project in 2006, the song marks a welcome return to the singer's naughtier side.
Likewise, Little Broken Hearts as a whole might seem like a sonic and thematic departure to people who only know Jones as a low-key jazzy singer most often heard in the background at coffee shops. It's not, though. Between her own albums and her musical extracurricular activities, collaborating with the likes of Patton, OutKast, Ray Charles, Foo Fighters, the Lonely Island and Ryan Adams, among others ("Even I'm impressed by it," Jones confesses when presented with her list of collaborations) the singer has been experimenting and evolving for most of her career.
Taken in the greater Norah Jones context, a swoony, dreamy Danger Mouse album about heartbreak and the occasional revenge fantasy is far from radical.
"I think it's more of an evolution," she says. "But I am me and I know what's gone into it and where I came from last. I don't think my last record into this record is that crazy of a departure. I mean, it's definitely different. It's sonically different. But it's not a black metal album."
But would she ever consider a black metal album?
"No," she says, smiling before taking a sip of tea. "That would be a massive departure."