Norah Jones – I Dream Of Christmas (Deluxe) (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24bit/96kHz | Time – 00:52:44 minutes | 1,08 GB | Genre: Jazz, Christmas
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Blue Note Records
Norah Jones has been a steady voice of warmth and reassurance for nearly 20 years.
Now, the nine-time Grammy winner and platinum-selling artist has just released her first holiday album, I Dream of Christmas. The collection of timeless seasonal favourites and affecting new originals that explore the complicated emotions of our times and our hopes that this holiday season will be full of joy and togetherness.
Jones joined us to talk about the making of that album and what the Christmas season has meant to her throughout the years.
Christmas music, which first became a common move for singers back in the 1950s, continues to exert a mystical pull on musicians from punk rockers to pop/jazz luminaries like Norah Jones. There are two paths to making a Christmas record: cover the classics or write your own tunes. Given that Christmas music is built on impossibly catchy one-hit wonders, and the list of successful songwriters includes such talents as Irving Berlin (“White Christmas”), Leroy Anderson (“Sleigh Ride”) and Johnny Marks (“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”), the bar is high if you’re banging out originals. On the other hand, presenting your version of the classics is equally daunting considering that you’re following heavyweights like Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Elvis Presley. Norah Jones decided to split the risk by molding classics into her style while also writing half an album of new Christmas originals. Twenty years past her early but still resonant hits like “Don’t Know Why,” and “Turn Me On” (both from blockbuster debut Come Away with Me) Jones makes her mark on the genre with the five tunes she penned, sometimes in collaboration with album producer Leon Michels. The single, a Jones original called “Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones),” is an enjoyably melodic holiday number. Her gospel-inflected “You’re Not Alone” unfurls like a classic ’60s country tune with an assembly of overdubs providing angelic vocals on the choruses and a pedal steel guitar ringing in the background. Pedal steel returns on “Winter Wonderland” where a synth sounds like timbales. The champ among the classics attempted, however, is “Christmas Don’t Be Late” which gets a wonderfully slow, torchy arrangement. Memorable details include the oozy horns of Raymond Mason, Dave Guy and Leon Michels, the snare drum reverb, and Jones—singing her own harmonies—leaning into the “hula hoop” line. Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time Is Here,” famous from the Peanuts cartoon, is a natural fit for Jones’ piano-and-voice prowess. Berlin’s “White Christmas” gets a straight mid tempo cocktail jazz reading with Jones keeping up a brisk pace. On the other hand, the Elvis chestnut, “Blue Christmas” gets an ultra-slow reading with Jones on piano and vocals, letting her impeccably tight vibrato stretch over this holiday lament. The other favorite that Jones makes her own is “Run Rudolph Run,” best known as Chuck Berry’s Christmas hit, which here benefits from a deep rhumba beat and reverb on her doubled vocals. Ever the mercurial talent, Jones’ holiday dream is a worthy addition to the Christmas lexicon that’s merry and bright and yet innovative where it counts. – Robert Baird
01. Norah Jones – Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones)
02. Norah Jones – Christmas Don’t Be Late
03. Norah Jones – Christmas Glow
04. Norah Jones – White Christmas
05. Norah Jones – Christmastime
06. Norah Jones – Blue Christmas
07. Norah Jones – It’s Only Christmas Once A Year
08. Norah Jones – You’re Not Alone
09. Norah Jones – Winter Wonderland
10. Norah Jones – A Holiday With You
11. Norah Jones – Run Rudolph Run
12. Norah Jones – Christmas Time Is Here
13. Norah Jones – What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
14. Norah Jones – I Dream Of Christmas
15. Norah Jones – Last Month Of The Year
16. Norah Jones – I’ll Be Home For Christmas