Although the music of Norah Jones continues to blend pop, soul, folk, and country with a seasoning of jazz, her third album for Blue Note is the first where she's written (or collaborated on) all the material. Beneath the smooth surface lie darker strains on the album-opening "Wish I Could" (about a boyfriend lost to war), intimations of mortality in "The Sun Doesn't Like You," and the post-election horrors of "My Dear Country." The last seems to channel the inspiration of Brecht/Weill, while the equally bleak "Sinkin' Soon" is set to a jaunty Dixieland rag. Throughout, Jones's vocal intimacy and melodic warmth remain as disarmingly understated as ever. The soulful "Thinking of You," the countryish "Wake Me Up," and the syncopated "Be My Somebody" reflect the captivating style of her previous work. Although too much in the same midtempo mode becomes a dreamy lull, cut by cut, Jones's voice is irresistible.
When Van Morrison's double-length It's Too Late to Stop Now was released in 1974, it was an anomaly. Compiled from eight nights on his 1973 tour with his 11-piece Caledonia Soul Orchestra, it appeared months prior to Hard Nose the Highway. Contrary to standard industry practice of the time, its contents weren't doctored in the studio afterwards: There were no added overdubs or masked flubs. Some critics took issue with its sound – claiming the band, particularly the horns, were too thin – but there was no debate about the performances. It remains revered as one of the greatest concert recordings ever.