Norah Jones finds art in heartbreak 

click to enlarge Working together Norah Jones’ latest CD “Little Broken Hearts” was co-written and produced by Danger Mouse. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Working together Norah Jones’ latest CD “Little Broken Hearts” was co-written and produced by Danger Mouse.

They say breaking up is hard to do. But not if you get a couple of albums’ worth of material out of it, as chanteuse Norah Jones managed to do.

Her 2009 CD, “The Fall,” was penned after she and her longtime beau Lee Alexander split, and the new “Little Broken Hearts” somberly documents the dissolution of her next relationship with a certain unnamed author.

“When I’m happy, it’s hard to sit down and write songs — I just want to skip down the street,” says the nine-time Grammy winner. “But obviously, you go through stuff in life, and it’s great that I have an outlet like this to sort of funnel things into.”

“Hearts,” in particular, is cathartic. Produced by Danger Mouse, who also co-wrote every track, it’s brutally frank, lyrically, and musically the most inventive effort to date from Jones, who plays a headlining set at 6:40 p.m. Saturday at Outside Lands Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival.

It opens with a cello-accented perambulator called “Good Morning,” and a blunt admission: “Good morning, my thoughts on leaving are back on the table, I thought you should know.”

It’s not a very nice wake-up call, Jones agrees, adding, “But at least it lets you know what you’re in for with the rest of the album!”

Bluesy shufflers such as “She’s 22” and “4 Broken Hearts” segue into the tranquilized torpor of “Happy Pills,” “All a Dream” and “Miriam,” wherein she purr-threatens a homewrecker: “Now I’m not the jealous type, never been he killing kind/ But you know I know what you did, so don’t put up a fight.”

The cheater’s real name isn’t Miriam. “And I didn’t kill her, either,” Jones says. “But it’s high drama, you know? It’s not a diary, but it’s sure fun to be creative and take personal things and turn them into a story.”

Jones is no stranger to collaboration. She’s done so many, in fact, that she released an entire anthology of them, “... Featuring Norah Jones,” and she just did a duet with “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane on his debut album “Music is Better Than Words.”  

She first worked with Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) on his recent Italian-film-score tribute, “Rome.” As for tracking “Hearts” in his Los Angeles studio, she says, “I was excited by that — just to record in a way that he does and get the sounds that he can get,” she says.

The New Yorker has had a new paramour for over a year, but she’s not parading him around town.

“I’ve got a lot of great friends,” she says. “But more and more, I just want to hang out at home with my dog and my man and watch ‘Iron Chef.’ To me, it’s very exciting.”


Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival

Where: Golden Gate Park, 30th Avenue at Fulton Street., S.F. box office at John F. Kennedy Drive and 30th Avenue

When: Noon to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; noon to 9:40 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $95 to $495; sold out

Contact: (800) 745-3000,,

Note: Parking is extremely limited; concertgoers are encouraged to walk, bike or take public transit.

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Tom Lanham

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