Norah Jones, "The Fall"

83 Billboard Rating

Norah Jones' fourth album, "The Fall," may surprise some of her die-hard fans, or at least disarm them a bit. During the 13-song set, Jones ditches the gentle piano-playing of her previous work and rises to a new level of creative boldness. With a new group of musicians behind her, Jones incorporates a fresh, beat-savvy sensibility into these noir-like arrangements, playing plenty of electric guitar and exploring the piercing quality of Wurlitzer electric piano. Jones adopts a smoky voice and soulful veneer for the opening track and first single, "Chasing Pirates," while displaying a slinky kind of ambience on "Light As a Feather (co-written with Ryan Adams). The social commentary "It's Gonna Be" offers a garage-rock attitude, and "You've Ruined Me" has a rich Americana flavor. But Jones is still a little bit country ("Tell Yer Mama") and a little bit rock'n'roll ("Stuck"). Overall, the artist straddles those lines in an entirely different manner than she ever has before. --Gary Graff