Norah Jones’ pretty (boring) latest, Pink joins the circus

Chris Azzopardi
By | 2018-01-16T05:52:49-04:00 November 26th, 2009|Entertainment|

Hear Me Out

Norah Jones, “The Fall”
Norah Jones is a big tease. All that talk about a rock remodel, an added oomph to her dozy ditties that might fend off the Red Bull? With thin layers of guitar licks and less of a piano push, it’s here. But hardly. The electroshock-sound therapy does little to frame many of the characterless songs on her fourth album, produced by rock heavy-hitters who mostly maintain the nebulous and flowy sound from her pop-jazz predecessors. “The Fall” is off to a slick start with “Chasing Pirates,” a breezy, crunched-up cut with a refreshing verve. A few tunes in, though, Jones slips back into her old sleep-swaying, excite-less self: the dreary daydream-driving “Light as a Feather,” the paint-by-numbers sound of “Back to Manhattan” and the mellifluous “December.” She’s on the up-and-up when she strays from that riskless murmuring, like on “It’s Gonna Be” or “Young Blood.” Still, forget about getting much of a rise out of “The Fall.”

Grade: C+

Pink, “Funhouse Tour”
Pop’s spunky snake doesn’t need umpteen costume changes. She’s got enough personality ones, switching from sassy kiss-offs like “U & Ur Hand” to fragile fits (“Family Portrait”) and vulnerable shakers – “Sober,” where she breaks free from punch-drunk love. That hits trio is part of the rabble-rouser’s live concert DVD, a razzle-dazzle circus set – with some “OMG, no she didn’t!” swooping acrobatics – that pulls from four of Pink’s albums, drawing most of the material from her bitchy, breakup latest, “Funhouse.” She throws in a handful of covers (you’ll really feel “I Touch Myself” with its self-satisfying sofa) that also land on the 12-track CD, a disc that includes the unreleased studio track “Push You Away,” but dumps Pink’s biggest and best hits. With those, this set would fly as high as she does.

Grade: B+

Angie Stone, “Unexpected”
If only “Unexpected” was, indeed, that. But much of the neo-soul sister’s sound on her commercialized latest sells into the predictability of urban-pop with joints that fire up the Auto-Tune and feed low-cal lyrics. Even if the old-school “I Ain’t Hearin’ U” is guilty of that second offense, at least it’s a catchy boppin’-and-droppin’ ditty. Next to the egregiously phoned-in “Tell Me” – obvious rap spot included – and the boring slow-jam throwaways, like the sexed-up “Kiss Me All Over,” it’s like a diamond in a pile of garbage. Upgrading with a trendy twist isn’t always a bad thing, but when it sounds as expected as this, it is. Only life mantra “Think Sometimes” feels authentic, and “Free,” with its girlfriend-got-your-back boost, is easy to sing along to. But it’s shaped like a Rihanna rip-off. And we already have her umbrella.

Grade: C-

Also Out

Amerie, “In Love & War”
When this gravelly voiced vixen’s at war, like on the retro-rocker “Higher,” she wins. And had her third album’s second half cut some of the sappy slowies, overdoing it with the done-me-wrong woe, this mostly super-duper CD would be easier to fall in love with. Here’s what’s heart-able, though: the polished ballad “Swag Back,” an infectious radio-ready anthem, and Beyonce-sounding second single “Heard ‘Em All.” More sass, spunk and sizzle. Less sogginess.

Tina Turner, “Tina Live”
What’s legs got to do with it? Everything. Because during this 2008/2009 50th Anniversary Tour, the legendary rocker – nearly 70 – still struts them like a sexy runway model, defiantly and confidently. And for over two hours on DVD she shows us who’s boss with an age-defying run of hits, including her career-making “Proud Mary.” A hyper-aggressive 15-song CD drives all the attention toward her gruff growl, which rocks just as much as those glorious gams.

Carly Simon, “Never Been Gone”
Sets like these – making old hits new – are released with the intention of re-sparking a burned-out star’s glory days. Simon had plenty, but with a wobblier voice and some hokey acoustic-like song arrangements (“You’re So Vain” is no gain, all pain, as the chorus annoyingly builds to broken-record repetitiveness) nothing is improved upon. There are two decent unreleased songs, but all the needless do-overs on “Never Been Gone” should’ve never been.

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.