A Perfect Circle Too Desperate to Show Some Edge

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Norah Jones
Not Too Late
Blue Note

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Norah Jones started out making music so luxuriously unconcerned with the weight of the world that one—or several million—couldn't help but come away with her. Tori and Fiona could expose their hearts; Norah just wanted to sing sweetly about hers. For the most part, Not Too Late is the same almost-jazz as 2002's Grammy phenomenon Come Away With Me. But it's a heavier affair than that debut of 2004's Feels Like Home. No longer content with mood, Jones aims for insight: "We drifted from shore/With a captain who's too proud to say/That he dropped the oar." Three years ago, the thought would have counted. She does fine with BFF ballad "Until the End," but when she comforts the bereft wife of a soldier Norah evidently "loved too," it isn't as torrid or touching as it should be, and "Not My Friend," in which she threatens a two-timer with his own gun, can't even see the dramatic high it's reaching for. That voice is still "that voice," but gravity was never what made it fly.

 
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