Norah Jones doesn’t feel it was brave of her to record her latest album, The Fall, with a brand new set of musicians, even though changing even one player can have an enormous effect on a band from the chemistry to the sound.
“For me, it needed to happen,” says Jones. “It was time for me to mix it up and try new things. All the people I’ve played with, it was time for them to try new things too, I think.”
Although the N.Y.C.-based singer-pianist didn’t know any of the players before she got in the studio with them and producer Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Modest Mouse, Tom Waits), Jones says everybody was really nice and she felt comfortable giving direction, when necessary.
“Some musicians take direction well and get better with a little bit of insight from the person they’re playing with; some people do better just going on instinct and as soon you ask them to change one thing, it doesn’t work anymore,” says Jones. “Everybody’s different. I learned that.”
It worked out so well that those players are now her touring band, which stops in Toronto at Massey Hall tonight. “It’s just really fun to play and they sound great,” she says.
Jones was first viewed as a jazz artist when she debuted in 2002 with Come Away With Me and then threw in some country flavour on 2004’s Feels Like Home, both of which mainly featured other people’s songs. For the next, 2006’s Not Too Late, she wrote every single one, some as co-writes; same with 2009’s The Fall, which ranges from the swinging rock ‘n’ roll of It’s Gonna Be to the soft sultry pop of Chasing Pirates.
“The last couple of records have been all my songs and it’s been rewarding. I feel encouraged as a songwriter,” she says.
Jones, who turns 31 at the end of the month, has sold a staggering 40 million albums worldwide. Most people work in order to retire, to one day have enough money to stay home. What keeps her motivated?
“I like what I do,” she says simply. “I like the music. The minute the music gets boring or I don’t like it, I’m not going to do it anymore. That’s why I have to keep trying new things and change it up.
“I don’t know, I could be into staying home and hanging out,” she laughs. “And I have the past couple of years. It’s been a lot of work, putting this album out and travelling again and I do enjoy it, but there has to just be a balance.”