Norah Jones has found a new friend – but has she been hanging out with the wrong crowd?
Last year's Rome project from Italian composer Daniele Luppi and hotshot producer Danger Mouse was an intriguing proposition, pitting Jack White's man of mystery against Norah Jones's femme fatale in a spaghetti western noir. It was the classic soundtrack to an imaginary film and opened new vistas for jazz-lite darling Jones.
She and Danger Mouse liked what they created and simultaneously set about putting Little Broken Hearts together. What they've come up with is what you'd expect – a voice as smooth as silk but syrupy as molasses over thick beats and dusty arrangements. Danger Mouse hasn't so much brought his 'A' game as his only game.
Like his 2010 Broken Bells project, Little Broken Hearts unfurls as a plod. After The Fall and Say Goodbye have lovely flickering electric piano and springy guitar – and Jones as seductive as ever – but they hit a muddy mid-pace that lingers through the chimes of 4 Broken Hearts and the weary Travelin' On.
Only when Jones brings a fabulous lazy riff to the yearning Happy Pills or some vengeful woman wronged character to Miriam – " Miriam, that's such a pretty name/And I'll keep saying it until you die" – does the album break free from Danger Mouse's well-worn template. This partnership's a bit too cosy.