Photo Credit: Diane Russo
After some silence, Norah Jones released her seventh studio album Pick Me Up Off The Floor. Norah started her career in the early 2000s with hit songs like “Don’t Know Why” and “Turn Me On”, and she is finally back with her jazzy and mellow tunes. The album begins in a very Jones-like style, quiet and gentle. On the first song, “How I Weep”, sad lyrics are sung over a smooth and calming melody. As the title presumes, Norah sings about crying over different things in life, such as loss and grief. She romanticizes sadness within the album. The track “Hurts to Be Alone” touches on the topic of loneliness, yet with very little lyrics. It’s heavier on the musical side: slightly melancholic but still upbeat, the music sounds comforting, even though “It hurts to be alone.” Same goes for the following track, “Heartbroken, Day After.” Those who were once together are now apart, and while it’s a sad occasion, there is a sense of hope. Norah is able to relay that message in her lyrics: “Hey, hey // Don’t look so sad // It’s not that bad, or is it?”
Speaking of the musical side of the project, the song “Flame Twin” starts out with a piano intro and sounds as jazzy as some of Norah’s previous work. The title references the phrase “twin flame,” which also means “soulmate.” A lot of the songs on the album have limited lyrics, i.e. “This Life”: “Some may run, but I won’t hide // I’ll take my pride with you.” One of the many themes of Pick Me Up Off The Floor is the complexity of relationships. For instance, in “Say No More” and “Heaven Above”, Norah and her loved one are no longer together, but she still feels their presence. Again, setting the tone for romantic melancholy.
Another recurring topic is self-empowerment and being freely yourself. Slightly influenced by country music, “To Live” is about living in the now and not being stuck inside your own head. Life is worth living to the fullest, even if you are upset or going through heartbreak. “Stumble On My Way” focuses on the listeners to reflect on their own journey without judgment, but rather with self-awareness. Right after is the song “I’m Alive”, an upbeat ballad with very empowering lyrics for women. Subtly hidden inside an acoustic jam, the lyrics touch upon male privilege and women finding their voices, hoping that narrative will eventually change. This song came out as a single prior to the album’s release and was welcomed warmly by fans.
That said, Norah digs deeper into relationships she’s had. On the track “Were You Watching”, Norah asks a person with whom she shared a previous relationship with if they noticed how everything unfolded. Were they watching their love bloom? Did they notice it dying? Norah’s way with words is beautiful and subtle, while she expresses the things that are on her mind quite confidently.
A version of the album was also made exclusively for Target, and features two additional bonus tracks titled “Street Stranger” and “Trying To Keep It Together.” The latter bonus track has a quarantine-style video of Norah singing and playing the song on piano. It’s a gentle wrap to the album, leaving us in a dreamy state of mind with the sweet feeling of sadness. Unflashy, calming and evoking our sense of hope, Pick Me Up Off The Floor overall sounds like a live performance in a New York jazz bar. Norah Jones has always been able to take us on a musical journey with her velvet voice, and she is still able to do so after all these years later.