I'd never have put Norah Jones and Outkast in the same musical sentence, but the two blend together with ease. Outkast simply puts her out front as lead singer, and she melds with their funk as if she were born to it. The song "Take Off Your Cool" is from is another Grammy winner, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.
Some of the songs Jones sings are from her own bands or side projects, such as The Little Willies and El Madmo, so the songs with those groups work naturally well. She also includes songs with perfumers she's toured with, including M. Ward, Sasha Dobson (who has played with her touring band), Gillian Welch, and David Rawlings.
I was most surprised that she does well with hip-hop, for there's an area where I'd imagine her an outsider. Yet sure enough, she shines with Q-Tip in "Life is Better" and even with Talib Kweli in "Soon the New Day" (although I couldn't understand why she was interested in singing the sexist lyrics to this second song).
All in all, this is one wonderful little sampler of a CD. It's the perfect party mix with something for everyone. Or a great selection for driving: a little jazz, a little country, ballads, hip-hop, everything you might want.
The closing cut is the best. The Roy Orbison song "Blue Bayou" gets a beautiful live acoustic guitar treatment with M. Ward. It's a lovely, plaintive, untouched-by-time appeal for "some sweet day…on blue bayou."