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Jones unrestrained on ‘Begin’

This cover image released by Blue Note Records shows ‘Begin Again’, the latest release by Norah Jones. (AP)

Halsey to receive new artist award from SHOF

Norah Jones, “Begin Again” (Blue Note)

Norah Jones grew to be a household name after her 2002 debut “Come Away With Me” – an album that brought home five Grammys. She became a jazz sweetheart overnight, but quickly established that she did not want to be boxed into one genre.

Following her early success, Jones began to wander toward folk influences before dappling in electronica, collaborating with Danger Mouse with 2012’s “Little Broken Heart”. Jones made a return to jazz with 2016’s “Day Breaks” and has now released a collection of singles in “Begin Again”. The seven-song project harnesses Jones’ ability to tap into other musical streams while maintaining a central jazz feel. Electronic influences are less pronounced than in “Little Broken Heart” yet more present than in “Day Breaks”. The subtlety is welcomed with the experimentation on “Begin Again”.

“My Heart Is Full” plays with reverb as Jones’ sultry voice echoes and bounces, commanding attention. The distorted vocals in “Just a Little Bit” make the song playful, without detracting from the quality of Jones’ writing. Mirroring techniques used by artists like Bon Ivor, “A Song With No Name” mixes the delicate with the experimental, striking a fantastic balance. It’s a distinct Jones’ song, with post-production vocal texture. “It Was You” pulls no bells or whistles, coasting into a jazz number decorated with horns and a thundering piano.

As a collection of singles, “Begin Again” is less concerned with generating a cohesive feel throughout the album – perhaps allowing Jones more creative license song to song. It’s an entertaining assortment of Jones unrestrained. And as a woman who has accumulated nine Grammys and has seven albums (not to mention two collaborative albums) under her belt, why have any restraint?


LOS ANGELES: Halsey will be the recipient of the Hal David Starlight Award at the 50th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Dinner, slated for Thursday, June 13 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.

The award, created in 2004, recognizes “gifted young songwriters who are making a significant impact in the music industry via their original songs,” according to the Hall. It was named in honor of SHOF Chairman Emeritus Hal David for his support of young songwriters.

Previous honorees include Drake, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Sara Bareilles, Nick Jonas, Nate Ruess, Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds, John Legend, Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo, Drake, Benny Blanco, Jason Mraz, John Mayer, Rob Thomas and John Rzeznik.

SHOF Chair Nile Rodgers commented, “I’ve watched Halsey grow over the last five years and every record seems to be better than the last one, so I’m delighted that she’s being recognized in this much-deserved way.”


President & CEO Linda Moran added, “Halsey bares her soul with heart-wrenching, rebellious and complex lyrics that come from a place of creativity and strength where not many songwriters are comfortable going. She is more than worthy to join the roster of the young songwriters who have received the coveted Hal David Starlight Award.”

The 24-year-old singer (legal name: Ashley Frangipane) first broke onto the global stage in 2014 with her song “Ghost”, which she posted on SoundCloud and soon was signed to Capitol’s Astralwerks label. She released her first album, “Badlands”, the following year and the follow-up, 2017’s “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” (on which she wrote or cowrote every song) debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. While her first solo No. 1 single, “Without Me”, didn’t come until last year, she’s been the featured artist and co-writer on hits headlined by other artists, including the double-platinum “Eastside” (by Benny Blanco, also featuring Khalid) and “Him & I” (by G-Eazy) and especially the Chainsmokers’ 2016 global smash “Closer”, which topped the charts for several weeks and has been certified diamond (10x platinum).

Other inductees at this year’s event include Dallas Austin, Missy Elliott, Tom T. Hall, John Prine, Jack Tempchin & Yusuf/Cat Stevens. Carole Bayer Sager will be receiving the Johnny Mercer Award and music publisher Martin Bandier is the Visionary Leadership Award recipient.

LAUSANNE, Switzerland: Elton John is the big draw at this summer’s Montreux Jazz Festival, part of an eclectic line-up packed with big names that also features Sting, Janet Jackson, Chick Corea and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke.

The former The Police singer will open the 53rd edition of one of Europe’s most celebrated summer music festivals on June 28, while veteran producer Quincy Jones will host the closing concert – an orchestral soundtrack of his 80s hits – on July 13.

In between, Sir Elton, Anita Baker and Joan Baez will appear as part of their respective farewell tours. The English singer-songwriter was initially booked for two nights, but those appearances have been merged into single show for 15,000 fans on June 29 at Saussaz stadium, a new venue for Montreux.

It will be the first ever open-air performance at the festival, better known for the intimacy and superb sound quality of its concert hall settings.

Janet Jackson, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month, will perform days after the 10th anniversary of her brother Michael’s death from an overdose of an anesthetic he used as a sleep agent. For jazz purists, multiple Grammy winner Corea brings a flamenco flavour with his Spanish Heart Band, while New Orleans trumpeters Christian Scott (aTunde Adjuah) and Terence Blanchard will open for drummer Billy Cobham, celebrating his 75th birthday. (Agencies)

“When you see the strong personalities booked at (the main) Stravinski Auditorium, maybe that is the guiding principle of this year … – all artists who marked a moment in music,” festival director Mathieu Jaton told Reuters.

“There is an equilibrium between legends, returning acts, (and) the young stars.”

The latter include Canadian Jessie Reyez and US rapper Lizzo, in the charts with her third single “Juice” and opening for actress and singer Janelle Monae – returning after a Grammy album of the year nomination for “Dirty Computer”.

Melody Gardot is making her first appearance in the cabaret 600-seat Club. “Shotgun” singer George Ezra, who won the British Male Solo Artist at the BRIT Awards in February, moves to the main stage.

Lauryn Hill is expected to revisit Nina Simone classics and her own R&B hits. (Agencies)

By Ragan Clark

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