I have little tolerance for what I call "bookstore music" -- the tepid, unobtrusive stuff one hears when browsing in Borders. And nothing seems to say "bookstore music" more plainly than "Norah Jones." Jones is, in truth, a distinctive singer (her "Don't Miss You at All," a lyrical setting of Duke Ellington's "Melancholia," is one of the most moving recordings I've ever heard). But she's being marketed as background music. Here, sentence by sentence, is Borders' pitch for Jones' new CD:
With its laid-back beauty, sly musicianship, and honeyed singing"Sly"? "Honeyed"? Those adjectives grate. Given the sexy overtones in this opening phrase, I wonder whether "its" was originally "her."
Norah Jones' latest album is as comforting as a summer breeze on a winter day.It's odd to refer to an "album's" singing, which strengthens my suspicion about "its" and "her." And in light of global warming, I'd think twice about calling that breeze "comforting."
On Not Too Late, Jones shares in the writing of each trackOne doesn't write tracks; one writes songs (or fugues, sonatas, symphonies, and so on).
for a personal recordingI'm not sure what defines a "personal recording," but given the ability of great singers (Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra) to make songs their own, composer credit is hardly necessary for a "personal recording."
that indulges her honky-tonk side."Honky-tonk" startles a bit: suddenly I smell cigarette smoke in the summer breeze, a breeze that is now even less comforting than it was when it was reminding me of global warming.
It's a lovely set"Lovely," on the heels of "honky-tonk"? Ah, what lovely honky-tonk! This CD promises to be all things to all people.
that sounds perfect whether you're enjoying a dinner party or the Sunday paper.Yes, middle-aged listener, you there with the newspaper spread all over the living room, this CD's for you. You want music that's comforting, but you too have a honky-tonk side waiting to be indulged. And yes, it's the 21st century, in which music is mere background to accompany other, more important endeavors, like sipping a latte, or doing the crossword puzzle, or browsing in a bookstore.
Would this CD still sound "perfect" if one were just listening to it, and not practicing continuous partial attention?