The divine Miss Jones

A friend of a friend of mine– he’ll go nameless, since I’m about to publicly humiliate him– is madly, madly in love with Norah Jones.
“Dude, you’ve got to write about her show coming up! She’s got this great voice, and she writes these great songs, and [friend-of-a-friend actually starts blushing] I think she’s pretty cute.”
There you have it– the trifecta of pop stardom.  Which Norah Jones is well on her way to, I might add.
Much has been made of Jones’ extensive jazz training and that she’s signed to Blue Note, a stalwart jazz label. But those tidbits don’t have all that much more influence on Jones’ music than the downright incongruous fact that her dad just happens to be Ravi Shankar.
No, Norah Jones’ tunes owe their sound mostly to the soul, country, and R&B she grew up listening to as a kid: Billie Holiday, Aretha  Franklin, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and the like.
If that’s your scene, too, better head to Starr Hill this weekend and give Miss Jones a listen.
A testament to just how far a gal’s vocal cords can take her, Jones’ superlative singing has drawn comparisons to such luminaries as Eva Cassidy and Patsy Cline. You can catch a hint of her personal geography in the nuances– there’s a certain cosmopolitan sophistication holdover from her Brooklyn birth, but at its heart, her tone is definitely Texan. Silky smooth when it’s called for and rough and tumble when she feels like it, Jones’ honey and smoke vocals are aural aphrodisiac enough to, well, make a friend-of-a-friend drop his jaw.
Norah Jones the songwriter is still maturing (hell, she’s in her early twenties, what do you expect?) although its quantity and not quality that’s lacking. Coming from an idiom that respects a good cover as much as an original, no one’s too bothered that she penned but two-and-a-half of the 14 songs on her full-length debut. At the show, you’ll hear Hank Williams and Ray Charles and Johnny Cash tunes, so that then, when you’re given a bit of unadulterated Norah Jones, it tastes that much sweeter.
Jones has a packed touring schedule this summer, including a few opening gigs for the Indigo Girls and our endlessly beloved Dave Matthews Band (so that’s how Charlottesville bagged her), a pair of pairings that are bound to earn her an expanded audience.
You’ve got to wonder how her intimate dimly-lit-lounge croonings will fare in some of her larger venues– D.C.’s 9:30 Club and Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Virginia Beach have a tendency to swallow talented but modest performers– but I suspect Starr Hill should suit Norah  Jones just fine.

Norah Jones performs at Starr Hill Music Hall Saturday,  June 22,  with the Gabe Dixon Band. Show starts 7:30pm and tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Could well sell out, so buy ’em early, and visit for more info.

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