A decade ago, Norah Jones defied expectations with her fifth studio album Little Broken Hearts, a striking collaboration with the producer Danger Mouse that arrived 10 years after her debut Come Away With Me prompting SPIN to call it "the second essential record of Norah Jones' career." Highlights include "Good Morning," the single "Happy Pills" and the high-energy groove of "Say Goodbye." Available now as a 1LP release for the first time.
Norah Jones and Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) first worked together when the producer called upon her to contribute vocals to his acclaimed 2011 album ROME. It was Jones' singular voice that caught Burton's attention as he began to conceptualize his homage to classic Italian film score music. He already had Jack White in mind for the male role, and he and his collaborator Daniele Luppi realized that Jones' voice would give the project the perfect balance it needed. Jones contributed three standout songs to ROME including "Black," and their connection proved deep enough that they decided to collaborate again on Jones' next studio album.
In a first for her, Jones arrived to the studio empty-handed – no tunes, no arrangements, just a few ideas in a notebook. The songs were all built from the ground up with Jones and Burton sharing all the songwriting credits and performing the majority of the instrumental parts; Jones on piano, keyboards, bass, and guitar, and Burton contributing drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, and string arrangements. The process was a complete change for Jones, but once they started it didn't take long for her to warm to the challenges of creating on the fly using whatever resources she and Burton had between them. (Later, they brought in a band—including drummer Joey Waronker, bassist Gus Seyffert, and guitarist Blake Mills—to bolster many of the tracks.)
Released in 2012, Little Broken Hearts was a fascinating and unexpected step in Jones' artistic evolution. Together she and Burton married their highly personal styles to create an entirely new sound. Created in the aftermath of a breakup, the album was a tour of stunningly nuanced environments. Twelve darkly luminous songs. Twelve little broken hearts. Each an exploration of wounded emotions from various perspectives that invariably led to a place of beauty and uplift.
While some tracks sounded like classic Norah Jones—such as the contemplative opener "Good Morning"—most explored rhythms, textures, and themes far from her comfort zone from the high-energy groove of "Say Goodbye" and the buoyant hooks of "Happy Pills" to the impressionistic dream-sequence reflections of "After The Fall" and the chilling murder ballad "Miriam."