On a collaboration compilation album featuring almost everyone Norah's still the main feature presentation.
(Norah & Sasha Dobson playing homage to Neil Young during the 2010 MusiCares Person Of The Year at the Los Angeles Convention Centre)
Miss Norah Jones has already made herself a Grammy award winning, legendary solo singer/songwriter on her own with four great platinum albums. From the classic debut 'Come Away With Me' to the new guitar sound on the end of last years 'The Fall'. Norah hasn't needed much help over the years apart from her backing band or producers but that hasn't stopped her from assisting a wide range of artists with their projects, from Andre 3000 to Willie Nelson. Jones has experimented with all sorts of duets, songs and styles. She has more than held he own on these collabos and adjusted to each artists sound all whilst maintaining her own style and integrity. Just call her the female Snoop Dogg...or maybe just check out '...Featuring' which brings all these collaborations together for a compilation album.
Norah is no stranger to teamwork aligning with The Peter Malick Group in the past for the record 'New York City' that featured classics like the title track, 'Deceptively Yours' and 'Strange Transmissions'. It's Jones however that provides the backing on this set, striking great chemistry with each unique artist that has given the opportunity for a physical album that boasts more tracks than most records.
This set could play as a normal Norah studio album. Her beautiful voice and charisma hits with each note. From the playful, sweet chemistry with Willie Nelson on the cover 'Baby It's Cold Outside' to the classic 'Here We Go' with the late Ray Charles, the iconic singer proves on these standouts that she belongs next to the legends.
Over highlights include the Ryan Adams & The Cardinals duet 'Dear John'. As Ryan and Norah harmonise together these notes are a devotion to great melodies. Meanwhile 'Virginia Moon' with the Foo Fighters is one of the most beautiful tracks the band has ever done. A band who ever since have been renowned as both a great loud and acoustic band. On the OutKast, more specifically Andre 3000 acoustic jam 'Take Off Your Cool' Norah's smooth, evoking singing and lyrics takes the eclectic, before his time hip-hop star through a galaxy of soul. What results is a clear cut standout on any CD, even the same disc that included his massive 'Hey Ya!'.
Even when Jones leaves her comfort zone entering the world of hip-hop even further she sits perfectly next to fellow New Yorkers, Talib Kweli ('Soon The New Day') and Q-Tip ('Life Is Better'). Jones fits in to two profound album cuts from the socially conscious rappers. Jones shows she can compliment great hip-hop records as well as Mary J. Blige. It's just a shame that the sunny, Wyclef Jean collabo 'Any Other Day' isn't on the disc neither is the hilarious 'Dreamgirl' by parody group The Lonely Island where Jones is hilarious but still sweet sounding at the same time. Still with her own side group 'The Little Willies' Norah has explored the lighter side of entertainment many times before and the pretty ditty 'Love Me' more than makes up for the other absentees starting this disc off.
As does the sensual, Spanish flavour of 'The Best Part' with El Madmo which spearheads the second half of this collection. It's deep, brooding and as alluring as the woman herself. The jazz duets 'Court & Spark' with Herbie Hancock and 'Ruler Of My Heart' with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band are more traditional Norah Jones esque tracks, but still they are a familiar addiction with their power and potency. It's with these tracks that Norah really takes you and makes you feel at home in her New York City.
The country gems 'Creepin' In' with legend Dolly Parton and 'Bull Rider' with Sasha Dobson take Norah back to her country and Johnny Cash inspired roots. Speaking of Johnny Cash, its always paid off when Jones has covered the stars. Just check the deluxe edition of 'The Fall' for her brilliant take on The Man In Black's 'Cry, Cry, Cry' and her rousing rendition of The Kinks 'Strangers' but on here, aided by Charlie Hunter she shadows the classic 'More Than This'. From the first note she hits with the word 'feel' you sense how original this take on a classic is going to sound.
There is a lot more takes on this compilation to absorb. This collection could have even venture into the double disc territory. One place this album will probably find itself in though is in the vicinity of double platinum sales or more. This CD is a must for any fan of Norah Jones to complete her catalogue because these songs like any B-side are distinctly her and distinctly significant. Even the people that aren't fans would do little wrong in checking this out, so long as they are fans of good music. On '...Featuring' Norah may be the guest but in reality she's the star of the show. TIM DAVID HARVEY.