8 Time Grammy Award Winner? For Real?

I'm sure everyone out there is sick and tired of my whining. But, I (once again) feel the need to vent.

Today, (Sunday, May 25th) which happened to be a damp, drizzly day in Connecticut, Lisa (my better half) and myself, strolled into FYE in the Danbury Fair Mall. She went her way to DVD movies, and I went mine into "Pop/Rock" CDs. After about 15 minutes or so, Lisa found me at the register with a copy of Norah Jones, "Come Away With Me". As we stood in line, she looked at the CD cover and we discussed my new CD purchase. She noticed that of the 14 songs contained on the CD, only 2 were written by Norah. One song (#13) was a collaborative effort.

We further discussed the fact that many of the best artists use non-original material. But, Lisa did make an intersting comment; "Hmmm, she said. I'm surprised that someone awarded Best New Artist would only have 2 original songs". Again, an interesting observation.

Well, I didn't let that take the wind out of my sails. I just continued looking at that little blue sticker on the front of the CD case stating "8 Time Grammy Award Winner", " Album Of The Year", "Best New Artist", "Song Of The Year". I had never heard the complete album, but I figured, it's gotta be halfway decent.

Upon arriving home I put the CD through my usual ritual (Wash, Cut, Polish and Demagnetize), placed the CD In the Audiomeca and sat back to listen to this exciting new "Grammy" performance.

You're kidding, right? This is it?

O.K.,O.K. Kinda cool voice with a sandy kind of texture, (although, she sounds like she was recorded using a plastic microphone), average piano playing skills (although, on cut #1 the piano sounds like it's under water), and on cut #9, she had an almost Ricki Lee Jones "kind of" quality. Overall, not a bad recording, but I wouldn't put it high on the "sonics" list.

So, this is "today's" Grammy material Huh?

I'm certainly glad I'm not a postal worker skilled in firing automatic weapons, cause I feel like I'm losing my mind.

Has anyone found this "Grammy Award Winner" worthy of it's status?

My opinion? I'd have to concur with the title of the first song,"Don't Know Why".

found the recording is very nice but the music was just too boring for my tastes I liked 3 or 4 songs sounds like music a female would prefer.
Ed, I agree with just about everything you said, but I came away with a different conclusion. I, what can I say, loved the album. No great voice, no great recording, no great nuttin, but I (though she didn't write most of 'em) loved the songs and her delivery. Go figure. peace, warren
I enjoyed the CD, which actually surprised me. I bought it based on the recommendation of a fellow AudiogoNer. Actually I think it is right up there with most Grammy award winners... nothing special!!!

I don't know what the industry is looking for, but it certainly isn't hot new talent. When was the last time someone actually won for having a good recording??? Most of the meaningful awards are the 'lifetime achievement awards' since they go to someone who has made 'good' music for a while, but for the most part was ignored by the academy.

If there is still much good music being made it is a very well kept secret. The industry whines about sales and profits being down, but the refuse to give the listeners what they want to hear. I'm 42 yrs old and have a fairly substantial music collection, but most of what I find myself buying over the last few years are reissues of things I already have. I want to buy new music. There just isn't much that catches my ear, so to speak. I can't believe I'm alone in this conundrum.

Norah Jones isn't much better or worse than the rest of the so-called winners. Just par for the course!

Give me some words I can dance to, and a melody that rhymes!!!
Unforetunately, I think most Grammy Award "Winners" are based more on CD sales than recording merit. What do you expect?
Nora Jones shows the music industry that well structured songs sung in a heartfelt way go a long way

the year before Steely Dan won for Two Against Nature
that was a real shock
First, Grammys are awarded for performers, doesnt matter if they write songs. Second, they are awarded for commercial successes - some of the best albums ever didnt receive Grammys because that's not what it's about - it's a way to promote the industry. Third, Ms. Jones does not have an exceptional voice. Fourth, however, she is pretty good and I am thoroughly enjoying the cd, just by skipping the first song, which I heard on tv and didnt like. (Thanks, Charlie. I did buy the cd.)


I could not agree with you more!
I guess I can understand where your coming from in terms of not original material, but how can you possibly knock Nora's talent, ESPECIALLY in a world of Christina, Britney, M&M...etc?
I spotted on anothe thread that Circuit City is selling Cds for $9.99 thru Memorial Day weekend. It turns out that not all CDs are $9.99. The point being that I bought 10 CDs, today, half of them were marked down to $9.99.

This sort of justified my purchase of 'The Wall' which I am playing now, for the first time in 20+ years. I really don't follow the Grammys much as this is usually an award for commerfcial success that follows great marketing hype by the studio.

Anybody played 'The wall' recently...?
Mdomnick, please understand, I'm not "nocking" Nora's talent. It just really surprises me that this is Grammy material.

Geez, maybe we should start a band and go for a Grammy.

Can you play anything?
Buscis: Not only do you not have to write your own material to win a grammy, i don't think that you have to play your own instruments either : ) Sean
Just goes to show you how boring it is in new music today.
BTW, I'm seeing Norah Jones in concert at the Beacon at the end of June. 50th Birthday present from my daughter. I'll let you know the (live) deal. I'm hoping that she'll be testing out new material for her next album. Nothing like the Beacon. Intimate and toasty. peace, warren
It shows how bad things actually are. I bought the Norah Jones CD about the same time I bought the box set of the Songbooks by Ella Fitzgerald. At a used cd shop, I swapped the six individual songbook cds I had and topped up my generous offer with some currency for a great deal on what was essentially a new box set. All comparisons are odious, I know, but if one generation can produce Ella and a couple of generations down what we get is Norah, we is in serious trouble my friend. The Grummys are a marketing tool obviously in the hands of record companies. The Norah Jones album first of all should not be classified as "Jazz", as that simply debases the currency. Treating it as some kind of high quality pop, it should gather something like 7 out of a possible 10. To give it 8 Grummys is nuts and a sad reflection on awards as a whole, which can only lead one to conclude that the record companies will, at this stage, do anything to have product that sells in very high numbers. If that is what is required to keep them afloat, so be it. How to tell the grain from the chaff is getting harder though. Do you know that the regular price of a single cd that is not a big selling item benefiting from some special is up here? $28.00 plus about 15% in sales taxes. Thank God stuff like the Norah Jones cd is discounted, it takes a bit of the sting out of following the crowd and buying one. And, oh, BTW, I know it's an American obsession, but please leave guns out of this...
Hey Warren, I once heard the Dixie Dregs featuring Steve Morse at the Beacon. Great venue. Now THAT was a Grammy winning performance. Those guys were absolutely amazing. I walked out of that place speechless along with everyone else after listening to them for over 2 hours.

And Pbb, $28.00? Man, I felt like I was chewing on tinfoil paying $17.99. But, it was "on sale" from $21.99 so, of course, that made me feel a little better (NOT).

And classifying Norah as jazz is like classifying McDonalds as gourmet food.

I agree with your last statement whole heartedly, but I guess I am more cynical than others here (except pbb, he appears to be lost forever in cynacism) in the way that the grammys have been a joke for as long as I can remember...of all this talk about Nora recieving grammys, but what about M&M???? That was the real joke of the night. What about Celion singing a song she says is about her son, but not written by her or anyone she is related to?

I made the same statement about this American Idol show that seems to be the craze. If you are looking for the hottest young talent, let them come on the show and sing something they wrote!! That would be a show I could watch. As far as I know, there are 20% of the 'artists' out there writing their own stuff. Face it we live in a McDonalds fast food society, and it gets throw in our faces everyday, all day.

Warren, I bet $1 (gotta save the rest of my $$ for my cdp:)) your night with Nora will be well worth your time...ya know, she's also easy to look at;) I think she has a great voice and is a rising star among a bunch of black holes.
Hey, are the Oscars any different? Caberet over The Hours. Give me a break. Forget this year's Grammy debacle, not recognizing another great tune, by Paul Simon. Didn't get the Grammy for Mrs. Robinson, either. Anyway, I do beleive, Norah is the real deal and will get better with age. She has been getting great material to sing. At least for my taste. She is a lovely little thing.
Mdomnick, I couldn't agree with you more. And, in regards to M&M, I heard that he won a Grammy, but I never really gave it much attention. Although I did see one of his videos on one of those video channels. He was dressed up as Bin Laden. It was pretty funny.

I kinda forgot to listen to the music.
Who is more deserving of recognition than Norah Jones? At least in this instance the awards went to someone with talent, a style of her own and who has good taste in selecting material. She isn't a jazz singer and I don't think it's fair to compare her to, say, Ella. Comparisons to Joni Mitchell, Roberta Flack, etc. at a similar stage in career would be more appropriate. Considering the state of popular music and the fact that rap and grunge/hard rock has yet to produce a single memorable song, I see Norah Jones as a breath of fresh air following a lot of exhaust. Her music has heart, and I for one am happy that people are buying it. Maybe it will start a trend.
Well,the midle of the road always sucks,pick any genre,Literature,Art,Politics etc.Whatever has mass appeal, as a rule sucks,check any Top ten list-all the more reason to support talent.As an aside did anybody read about William Shatner's recent award for worst Beatle cover ever-a spoken word cover of,'Lucy in the sky With Diamonds'.
said above >>but I wouldn't put it high on the "sonics" list.... cut #1 the piano sounds like it's under water

Are you sure you are running the right cables?

I remain,
Who is more deserving? Try Susan Tedeschi.
I find most Grammy award winners to be a let down for some years now, just a market hype in 90% of cases. I like the cd but don't give it a Grammy in my collection.
Clueless, they seem to be the right cables the 99.99% of the time. I found the instruments in the first cut to be a little recessed. Almost like they were playing from behind a down comforter.

Maybe it's partially the cables that are allowing me to hear that level of detail or, non-detail, whatever the case may be.

Some of the other cuts don't display the same characteristics. Although, if you look at the liner notes, you'll notice that several different engineers and producers were used on different cuts.

Could that explain some of the inconsistencies?
She belongs to the same horrible Jazz Lite category as Pat Barber, Diana Krall, Holly Cole and Jane Monheit. The only possible thing that can be said about any of them is that they may be a gateway for listeners to enter the rich world of vocal jazz. But I doubt it; Thunderbird doesn't exactly open the door to Chateu Petrus.
Ok so I won't compare her to Ella, but please don't compare her to Joni Mitchell. I don't really like Joni Mitchell, but feel that her talent dwarfs that of Norah Jones, even looking back at what she did at the same age and Joni can paint to boot! The only answer may be to disregard the Grummys and other awards entirely and to wish that Ms Jones has a lot in her yet to develop and materialise.
Yea, but Viridian, you have to give credit for the recording quality of Patricia Barber. I actually use one of her albums as a reference (Cafe Blue/Blue Note #7243 5 21810 2 5). The recording quality is superb.

The only thing is, when listening to Patricia, I feel the need to do 8 or 10 shots of Wild Turkey. Ya know, just to put you in the same "frame of mind" as the artist.
Marty, I agree with your "Jazz Lite" remarks, 'cept for the word horrible. It 'tis what it 'tis. It's really an oxymoron; "good lite jazz?" Hey, it's a start for some. An ending for others. I started with Boones Farm. It got me to the world of a fine Montrachet. There is hope.
peace, warren
It used to be (back in the 60's) that the Grammy's were pretty much worthless awards at least in pop and jazz. Nobody that I knew watched them or gave them any creedence. They were at least 5 years behind the times. I don't know what's changed. I still don't pay any attention to them. Re Norah Jones.. I've listened to the CD three times since I bought it a couple of months ago...Nothing great as far as Im concerned.
Ed, bottom line is, spectacular recordings and all, (and I have them): Can she sing? NO! They are sweet recordings, though. Her voice is, more than, tolerable, but not like this new white girl, who sounds black and cool: Madeleine Peyroux. Can't wait for her new recording. Now this is one white girl who's got Billy Holiday in her.
You're right Warren. (And I assume you're talking about Patricia Barber). But I'm grasping at straws here. And if the only straw I can grasp is recording quality, Hell, I'm goin for it.

P.S. Enjoy Norah live. Seeing a musician perform live adds a new perspective on said artist.
I picked up the N.Jones and P.Barber's "Verse" CDs the
same day.

The Jones CD sounds like it was run through some kind of processor to round off all the edges. There's no raw emotion.

"Verse" didn't impress me until I listen to it a second
time. The bottom end on this CD makes the Jones CD sound
like elevator music.
Buscis2 if sound quality becomes the overriding consideration I think that Tierney Sutton's album on Telarc surpasses all of the Barber albums. Her intonation, sense of pace and line and also her diction and phrasing as well are superior. It's a little too early to tell if she will develop her considerable gifts or drift off into the jazz lite wasteland. Some of Cassandra Wilson's efforts are also very, very well recorded; like the Chateau Petrus she is fully developed both as a writer and as an interpreter. When she sings a song, good or bad, Wilson sheds new light in the spaces between the words. She misses badly at times but that is because her choice of material is so much more adventurous and varied than anyone else mentioned. She goes for it and sometimes misses. Badly. If I had to put my money on any of these singers approaching the greats, like Billie, Ella, or to name the last in a great line that just died, Nina Simone, then it would be Wilson.
Buscis2, your impressions pretty much match mine on this album.
Viridian, Thanks for the tip on Tierney Sutton. I'll give it a shot. Telarc seems to always do a great job in terms of sonic quality. I've got a thing for the female voice anyway.

Probably one of my all time favorites has always been Ricki Lee Jones. Her recordings were always very well done. And there is a certain "seasoning" that Ricki Lee has always had.

Probably all those years of heroin abuse with Tom Waitts.
Viridian- have you heard PB's "Verse" CD?

Buscis2- don't waste your money on the Sutton CD. Sound
is not bad, but her singing is a joke. I'll sell you my copy for $5. + USPS if you really want to hear it.
Ricki Lee Jones--Pop Pop--she don't get better than that. Great recording with a voice as intimate she has ever been.
Great recommendation Warren, I would add "Naked Songs" one of Jones' other excellent efforts.
Kana, have not heard it. Should this one be on the must hear list? My Sutton recommendation began "If sound quality becomes the overriding consideration" and I would certainly stand by the sound quality of this disc without qualification. As for the preformance, I like it too, but that's what makes horse racin'.
First I will address the recording:

1 - This is a good recording. I have heard it on several reference systems, and it is very good. It stomps most of the other modern mass market commercial recordings made today.

2 - If you even remotely like the CD, you HAVE to hear it on vinyl. It is much better on vinyl. MUCH BETTER.

3 - Buscis2, if your room is the same as what it is in your system pics... I would not be making any judgements on the recording. You have a couch between your speakers in addition to your speakers not at all being symetrical in the least bit with your room. This does not touch your cable or speaker selection.

On Grammy and Talent...

1 - Folks, knocking Norah by saying that she has little talent is a bit funny. If you want to listen to only the most talented singers, go listen to opera. The best singers sing opera because only the best singers CAN sing opera. Singers like Ella and Jennifer Warnes could have sung opera, but even in that arena, they would have a lot of competition for being the 'best singer'.

2 - What is amazing about Norah is that she is a kid (like age 22 or so). Her production company estimated in the beginning her album sales would probably top out at 300,000 to 400,000. How many albums did she sell? Well over 10 million! Ms. Jones is NOT some sort of overproduced pop star. Her recordings really are pretty raw. There is a bit of processing, but not much. They did not spend much money producing her album. In contrast, check out the debut album from the daughter of the King. Her album is over produced to an extreme.

3 - Norah is a kid, give her time to develop. Maybe she will be a one album wonder. I doubt it. But who knows? I will love to hear her in 10 years. Singers take time to develop.

4 - Comparing Norah to the great female vocalists after one album is absurd. Give her 10 years.

5 - Did Norah deserve all of the Grammy's for an album that has two original songs and the rest covers? I know a few people who have a vote in the Grammy awards. They certainly think she has a lot of talent. Many, many people (most pretty talented, and most who know talent when they see/hear it) vote on the Grammys. Awards by their very nature are unfair. People get left out... Just ask Scorcese, he was beaten out by a convicted rapist for best director this past year. Oh well. My personal opinion is that there have been much bigger injustices handed out by awards. Anyone think Titanic and Gladiator deserved best pictures?

6 - The thing that Norah has going for her is that her sound is fresh, original, and not over produced. People loved it. It became popular. There is something to be said for being able to tap into pop culture with a kind of music that was only expected to sell MAYBE 400,000 albums max.

Personally, I love the album. She sings country tunes in a her own style that is very soulful. Her two original songs on the album are quite good as well. Her voice is recorded very, very well especially when compared to someone like Patricia Barber. I like PB a lot to, but she is usually recorded with her mouth practically around the microphone. Still like her albums though. On thing about Norah is that the album takes some time to really grow on you. The first time I heard it, I liked it. The 10th time, I was mesmerized by it.

Viridian- "Verse," is totally different from PB's past CDs
which cover standards in various group settings.

She takes some chances on this recording, but it's interesting. The recording has some real dynamic range to it. Reminds me of the great coffee house music of the late '60s.

I agree with you on Telarc's excellent sound quality. A Telarc DSD must hear, is Benny Green & Russell Malone- Jazz at the Bistro. Hope they put this one out on SACD.

DB, your tremendous wealth of knowledge is somewhat overwhelming.

It also amazes me at how well your eyes can hear. It is really quite an incredible ability. You must feel very special.

I would have to assume that after the extensive amount of formal education you received pertaining to room acoustics, sound reinforcement and acoustic physics, you would now be capable of looking at a portion of a picture and determining how a room, and the system contained within, sounds.

Very impressive.

So, before I opt to unleash my verbal wrath on you, I think I'll just revert back to a very valuable lesson my Dad had taught me many years ago. He suggested.....

"In times of confrontation, sometimes the best response you can receive is no response at all".

Now, whether you may attempt to comprehend this is totally irrelevant.

But, consider yourself fortunate. Do you understand?....... I didn't think so.

Marty, I hated Naked Songs. Ricki Lee's voice doesn't hold its' own-like nails scaping on a chalkboard. She, for my ears, needs plenty of instruments. She's hard to take with just a piano or guitar. Just my humble opinion. She soars in Pop Pop, though.
Are we forgetting, Ricki's first album, The Magazine, Pirates, and Traffic From Paradise? I feel that Ricki's older material was a little more melodic, very well recorded and slightly more indicative of Ricki's style.
DB, some comments, but first let me say that I just played this cd again, first time for my wife, and she thought it was pretty interesting and enjoyable. She thinks Diana Krall performs elevator music, has a very good ear and knows a lot about music, plus she married me a very long time ago, so I've always thought she was exceptionally perceptive.

Your first series of numbers:

1. It isn't bad, except in spots. I don't really have any way to compare it to other modern pop recordings.

2. TAS says the same thing.

3. I am in general agreement, and I find it interesting that someone who starts a thread dissing a very popular and critically well received recording then takes offense at a criticism of the systen on which he evaluates the recording. In fairness to Buscis2, maybe the sofa absorbs some nasties emanating from the speakers, and the configuration of his furniture and all the bouncing soundwaves all result in an accurate response at the listening chair. It could happen.

Your second series of numbers:

Actually, I have nothing to add, but w/re to the number of Grammys she got, I think it's amazing that anything half way decent gets any Grammys at all.

Your final comments: I agree that the voice is pretty well recorded and the album does grow on you.

For a popular recording, a big seller, this cd/lp is pretty refreshing. Instead of criticizing it, people should be rejoicing that something listenable has done this well in the market.

Paulwp, let's clarify several comments in your last response, shall we?

Terminology; please define 'dissing". Because quite frankly, it is a very general term. As I look back through the responses to this thread, I see very few people "dissing" Norah's efforts.

To the contrary, I found most everyone to be quite receptive to this new release within reason. My original intent was not to "diss" anyone. Nor do I feel it was the intent of anyone who responded to this thread. I feel that the majority of the focus was the questionable Grammy and musical standards. That was MY bone of contention, not anyone else's until, of course, people started responding to this thread.

TAS says the same thing? About what? If your thinking of the same TAS that I'm thinking of..... I personally respect the opinions of many sources, but I don't use any single one as "the benchmark". And as I have said in the past; I'm not asking anyone to agree with my opinion, I simply ask that they respect my opinion. Hence, the concept behind a forum.

Taking offense? The only time I take offense to things said, is when they are hollow statements that are said with no basis. Let's try a different approach;

Gee Ed, I noticed a somewhat different approach to your system setup. Is that L.H. speaker at first reflection? Did you calculate your room nodes? Is that 5/8" sheetrock with sound deadening insulation? Are those 15' ceilings? Is the dispersion range of the speakers in FRONT of the couch? Is your listening chair 4 feet from the opposing walls? Are you running triangulated or cross axial?

And does Norah's album sound the same in my listening environment as your listening environment? Probably not. Your friends listening environment? Probably not.

You see? Now someone can make a more informed, intellegent statement. It's an age old concept, engage your brain BEFORE putting your mouth in drive.

In closing Paul, if certain individuals become that easily offended by opinions rendered in this forum, they should not be here. If open exchanges of ideas become too stressful, they should find somewhere else to go. But if people are going to participate in this forum or any other forum, they should keep in mind, it is an OPEN EXCHANGE of ideas. That means you must approach it with an OPEN MIND.
Busic2, how can you possible say the intent in your original post was not to disrespect Norah Jones? The entire post is a put down of the record. Maybe you should reread your post. But then again, you did admit you were whining.
Hmm, I thought it was clear from the structure of my response, but in the first point "2" of the message to which I responded, DB said the lp is better than the cd. I have no idea if that's true, or care, but just to be friendly I thought I'd point out that a review I just read in TAS agreed with him on that point. Not something worth having an extended discussion about, really.
Just saw Norah singing on Willie Nelson's birthday party tv show. Really enjoyed her performance on my no-fi tv. I like her a lot more now.
Onhwy61, Maybe we should both go back and read the original post. I just did. In my original post I summed up my opinion of this new release in one paragraph. "Kinda cool voice" means exactly what it says. I think her voice is cool. "Cool" meaning, I like it.

"Plastic microphone" pertains to the recording quality, "piano underwater" pertains to recording quality. "Ricki Lee Jones kind of" quality means singing style. Look at my preceeding responses and you'll see that I mention Ricki as being one of my absolute favorite musicians. "Not a bad recording" is self explanatory.

The statement I am trying to make is the same statement I tried to make in previous threads titled, "Is there big trouble brewing" and "Recording industry dirt". Both of those threads were in regards to quality standards now considered acceptable by the industry. Do I consider this a good new album? As I said before, it's not bad. Do I consider this Grammy material? No. At least not relative to what material used to be considered Grammy material. Do I consider Norah talented? She's O.K.

I would never compare her to Ella, Joni, etc. because I think that would be unfair. Again, read my post and look at it from the perspective of Grammy performance. Perhaps you will see the perspective from which I see it. Or, maybe not.

Also, (I feel) the majority of people who responded to this post, pretty much had the same opinion regarding her performance. It was O.K. That would leave me to believe that I'm not the only person who feels this way.

My "whining" is the disgust I feel towards the ever dropping standards of musical performance. And, until the industry promotes musicians the way that they used to, and proceeds to shake this "churn em and burn em" mentality, I will continue to "whine".

DB had mentioned reevaluating Norah in ten years from now. Based on past performance of the newer musicians and the recording industry, do you really think that Norah will be around ten years from now?

I would be pleasantly surprised. But I won't hold my breath.