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...Featuring Norah Jones (2010)

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The Little Willies

In the wake of her 2002 blockbuster debut, Norah Jones became an in-demand duet partner, popping up on albums from all manners of musicians. The 2010 compilation, …Featuring, helpfully rounds up 18 of these guest appearances, including a cut by the Jones-fronted country cabaret outfit the Little Willies, and what impresses is the range of collaborators and the consistency of the music. Anybody who called Norah up for a duet was clearly smitten by her way with slow-burning seduction, as they almost without fail cast her in that role for their own recordings, smoothing out rough edges or adding some sultry sophistication. This would seem like a limited specialty, but Featuring proves it’s not. Jones sounds as comfortable trading verses with Willie Nelson and Ray Charles as she does acting as a counterpoint to Q-Tip and Outkast, providing alternating contrasts according to the setting; she freshens the veterans and provides a touch of timeless elegance to her modern rock peers. It may all be variations on a theme, but the sounds and songs change just enough for the music to be quietly absorbing. Better still, when these side shows are grouped together as a main attraction, they manage to sound of a piece. These may be songs that appeared on other artist’s albums, but when presented as a collection, they seem to belong only to Norah Jones. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine