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Norah Jones | Begin Again

The singer-songwriter does some artistic stretching on this freewheeling release.

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Calling Begin Again Norah Jones’ seventh album might be a bit of a stretch. The disc has only seven songs. It clocks in at under half an hour. And Jones herself admits it consists of single songs that have been recorded here and there on the fly over the past couple of years with a variety of collaborators — including Jeff Tweedy and Doveman. But if you’re thinking about skipping it for any of the reasons above, think again. Despite (or perhaps due to) its easygoing, less structured approach, this is one of the singer-songwriter and pianist’s more daring and vital releases. Over the course of these freewheeling tracks, she ventures wherever her mood and collaborators take her, casually partaking of everything from low-slung funk and jazzy soul balladry to experimental alt-folk and country, edgy trip-hop and more. What pulls it all together are her lightly sanded vocals, fine ’n’ mellow vibe and innate sense of melody. Whether it’s technically her seventh solo album or not, Begin Again is clearly something of a fresh start — not to mention a richly rewarding artistic stretch for Jones. And for you.