Award winning singer, songwriter and pianist Norah Jones has released her seventh solo studio album, Pick Me Up Off The Floor, which is out now from Blue Note Records. Listen to the first track from it, To Live...
The album features collaborators including Jeff Tweedy and Brian Blade on a set of 11 new songs written or co-written by Jones that speak deeply to the moment.
Jones says she didn't mean to make another album. After she finished touring 2016's Day Breaks — her much-heralded return to piano-based jazz — she walked away from the well-worn album cycle grind and into an unfamiliar territory without boundaries: a series of short sessions with an ever-changing array of collaborators resulting in a diverse stream of singles (with Mavis Staples, Rodrigo Amarante, Thomas Bartlett, Tarriona Tank Ball, and more). But then slowly but surely, the session songs Jones hadn't released congealed into that very thing she'd meant to avoid — an album. But Pick Me Up Off The Floor is not some disjointed collage. It holds together beautifully, connected by the sly groove of her piano trios, lyrics that confront loss and portend hope, and a heavy mood that leans into darkness before ultimately finding the light.
"Every session I've done, there've been extra songs I didn't release, and they've sort of been collecting for the last two years," says Jones. "I became really enamored with them, having the rough mixes on my phone, listening while I walk the dog. The songs stayed stuck in my head and I realized that they had this surreal thread running through them. It feels like a fever dream taking place somewhere between God, the Devil, the heart, the Country, the planet, and me."
Sure enough, just as this set of songs blurs sonic colours (blues, soul, Americana, and various shades of jazz) it also swirls the personal and political, specific pain and societal trauma, into one mercurial body. Even the album title's meaning seems to shift. The words "Pick Me Up Off the Floor" at times play as a plea for outside intervention, but in other moments the phrase feels like a bootstraps-style statement of purpose.
"Living in this country — this world — the last few years, I think there's an underlying sense of, 'Lift me up. Let's get up out of this mess and try to figure some things out,'" says Jones. "If there's a darkness to this album, it's not meant to be an impending sense of doom, if feels more like a human longing for connection. Some of the songs that are personal also apply to the larger issues we're all facing. And some of the songs that are about very specific larger things also feel quite personal."
"I don't know if I was just in a zone or if this process turned it on, but I’ve felt more creative in the last year than I ever have," says Jones. By completely rethinking the way she made music, Jones discovered a new wellspring of inspiration, with the fortunate if unexpected result of making an album of tremendous depth and beauty that she was not trying to make.
Here's the official video for "To Live" featuring drummer Nate Smith, bassist Jesse Murphy, trumpeter Dave Guy, and tenor saxophonist Leon Michels.
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