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Norah Jones at DAR Constitution Hall

By Stephen Brookes • The Washington Post • April 25, 2007

Norah Jones must be perfecting the art of nonchalance. When she casually followed the singer M. Ward onstage at DAR Constitution Hall on Monday night for an opening duet, few people in the audience even seemed to notice. And as she drifted offstage to scattered clapping, Ward felt obliged to point out: "Um -- that was Norah Jones."

And that was pretty much the tone of the whole evening. Jones -- with her backup group, the Handsome Band -- was in fine form, mixing up material from her first two albums with songs from this year's darker, edgier "Not Too Late." But it was a curiously low-key event, from the opening "Come Away With Me" to the heartfelt cover of Tom Waits's "Long Way Home" that closed the show.

Languid is what Jones does, of course; anyone who's heard her 2002 breakout hit "Don't Know Why" is familiar with her mellow, curl-up-by-the-fire style (which won her the unfortunate nickname "Snorah"). That smoky voice could caress anyone into a trance, and in love songs like "Sunrise" and the breezy "Thinking About You," she worked her quiet magic beautifully.

Thankfully, there were a few moments that shattered the placid calm. The bluesy "Sinkin' Soon" showed the whole band at its best, and a smoldering, jungle-jazzy version of "I've Got to See You Again"-- propelled by Adam Levy's demonic guitar -- purely smoked with sex. But the biggest applause of the night came when Jones (playing a toy piano with one hand and her concert grand with the other) sang the political anthem "My Dear Country," whose swipe at George W. Bush ("Who knows -- maybe he's not deranged") won appreciative cheers.

It was hard to hear much of Jones's opening act, the Portland-based singer Ward. Despite a pleasantly beat-up voice, his studiously lo-fi performance was, by the end, drowned out by the chattering of a plainly unimpressed audience.

Posted on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 at 01:36PM by Registered CommenterStephen Brookes | Comments Off

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