Norah Jones : Pick Me Up Off The Floor Review
Nine-time GRAMMY-winning singer, songwriter, and pianist Norah Jones has released her seventh solo studio album called Pick Me Up Off The Floor. Pick Me Up Off The Floor has a who’s who cast of world-class musicians, but is not a fragmented collage. Instead, it is held together by Jones’ piano playing and lyrics that confront loss and portend hope, and emotions that lean to darkness before ultimately finding the light. “Every session I’ve done, there’ve been extra songs I didn’t release, and they’ve sort of been collecting for the last two years,” says Jones. “I became really enamored with them, having the rough mixes on my phone, listening while I walk the dog. The songs stayed stuck in my head, and I realized that they had this surreal thread running through them. It feels like a fever dream taking place somewhere between God, the Devil, the heart, the Country, the planet, and me.” Each selection features various musicians. Jones’ go-to drummer, Brian Blade, appears on six of the album’s 11 tracks. Other musicians includes bassists Christopher Thomas, John Patitucci, Jesse Murphy, and Josh Lattanzi, drummers Nate Smith, Dan Rieser, and Josh Adams, keyboardist Pete Remm, pedal steel guitarist Dan Iead, violinist Mazz Swift, violist Ayane Kozasa, cellist Paul Wiancko, percussionist Mauro Refosco, background vocalists Ruby Amanfu and Sam Ashworth, and the horn section of trumpeter Dave Guy and tenor saxophonist Leon Michels.
“How I Weep” starts with a droning ostinato in the bass figure and Jones’ hypnotic voice. Soon the strings join in to augment the descending melodies emotional charm. The emotion that Jones pulls from the lyrics and sonics in her voice is where the magic happens. Paul Wiancko creates the perfect string score to match Jones’ sound, and together the impact is honest and direct. The song builds methodically, taking us on a musical journey of emotions, sounds, and lyrical charm. Jones says so much with only the required number of words.
“Heartbroken, Day After,” my favorite track, is Jones’s emotional journey at her lyrical best. The balance of pain and yearning in wane with hope and promise is beautiful. Jones is supported by backing vocals and expressive pedal steel by Dan Iead. The music is a blend of jazz, Americana, and pop. Jones’ voice lays perfectly against the six-eight feel. Her voice is pushed-out in the mix, so each nuance can be heard and appreciated. This builds emotion and makes her unique style that much more real and organic.
Pick Me Up Off The Floor comes after Jones showcased her astonishing flexibility in her many collaborations with artists as diverse as Willie Nelson, Outkast, Herbie Hancock, and Foo Fighters. Since 2018 Jones has been releasing a series of singles with artists and friends such as Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy, Thomas Bartlett, Tarriona Tank Ball, Rodrigo Amarante, and Brian Blade. Pick Me Up Off The Floor is a cohesive collection of songs, showing Jones can pull from all directions and come up with something compelling and musical.
Norah Jones: Website
Pick Me Up Off The Floor
June 12, 2020
Blue Note Records