South by Southwest is at its best when it shows you something new.
Norah Jones, of course, is not a new or unknown artist. But the music she played tonight certainly was. For her concert at La Zona Rosa, Jones performed her not-yet-released album, “Little Broken Hearts,” in its entirety.
A decade ago, she did the same thing with “Come Away With Me,” which went on to sell more than 25 million copies.
“We’re just playing my new record,” she said. “That’s it. I hope you like it.”
What followed was a soulful performance filled with slow gems and some rocking numbers, too. Jones played keyboards, electric guitar, piano and acoustic guitar during the set.
The adorable Miss Jones also commented on the heat, asked about how everyone was liking Texas and commented on the food.
“I’ve only eeated Mexacan food for like the last four days,” she said.
The songs were often sad and lamented lost love. One of the most touching lyrics was “Are you really happy?/You sure look happy…Does she make you happy?” from the forlorn, haunting (but beautiful) “She’s 22.”
The new record comes out May 1 and was produced by Danger Mouse. I predict a success.
“Take It Back” was a heavy guitar jam, but Jones’ sweet vocals softened it a bit. “After the Fall” had a huge groove and more of a pop feel than some of Jones’ jazz songs. “Out on the Road” was upbeat and fun with an old-timey, tavern-style piano melody.
Jones was confident in the new songs and joked about not playing anything familiar.
“Is it weird hearing music you’ve never heard?” she asked. After some responses from the crowd, she said, “OK, good.”
“Little Broken Hearts” was well-received by the huge crowd, which was definitely the biggest I’ve seen all week (outside of the thousands at Auditorium Shores).
“Happy Pills” was the set’s standout track, and it’s no surprise that it’s the new album’s single. The tune has a hip-swinging group and a singalong refrain and it should prove to be popular.
Even more than the songs, I loved Jones’ demeanor. She talked a lot to the crowd and cracked a lot of jokes. One fan even asked her on a date.
“A date? I’m busy,” she said. “I have like 20 bands to go see later. Don’t you?”