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by Carey Murphy and Ted S. McGregor Jr. & r &





NORAH JONES


Not Too Late


4 stars





& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & his odd little jazz singer attracted millions of fans with her 2002 record Come Away With Me, and its unavoidable, charming single, "Don't Know Why." She won, like, 800 Grammys for that song. But ever since, those fans have seemed perplexed -- they don't seem to get Norah Jones. Here's a news flash: She's not a pop singer.





With Not Too Late, the same not-poppy-enough buzz has emerged, but this is a jazz record -- even a little bluesy. It's slow throughout, sometimes old-timey, with subtle guitar parts and a few odd instruments. It's a stripped-down sound, but with an unforgettable voice like hers, how loud do you want the music?





These are all her own songs this time, and "My Dear Country" is a funny, touching take on American politics, with Norah and her piano front and center. And that's how I like her best.





-- TED S. McGREGOR JR.





DOWNLOAD: "My Dear Country"








The Earlies


The Enemy Chorus


4 Stars





& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & L & lt;/span & ight-years beyond their debut, the Earlies flex their prog-rock principles and turn out the sweet jams on their newest full-length. Where 2005's These Were the Earlies resonated as an inchoate mess of undigested musical influences, The Enemy Chorus throws caution to the wind, single-mindedly seeking the faraway stars to which one must hitch visionary wagons. Or something like that. Opener "No Love in Your Heart" sets a funky standard, a bouncy bass frolicking across substantial drums, all barely held in check by Moog-rocking grandeur. The thorough electronic revision allows the entire album to coalesce along similar lines. Without holding a particular form or band as the standard -- say, Mercury Rev and the Polyphonic Spree -- the Earlies fuse their influences instead of channeling them.





"Breaking Point" concludes the 11 tracks. It's an instrumental vision quest full of sitars, among other brands of madness, shaken and served perfectly. It's time to recognize, son.





-- CAREY MURPHY





Download: "Breaking Point"
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