New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
20 years ago, on February 26, 2002, a hard-to-categorize album by an unknown 22-year-old singer, songwriter, and pianist was released with modest expectations. Released by the legendary jazz label Blue Note Records, it wasn't a jazz album, nor did it resemble anything else on the pop landscape of 2002. But Come Away With Me, the debut album by Norah Jones, would go on to charm the world and introduce one of the greatest voices of our time. The album steadily grew into a global phenomenon, reaching #1 in 20 countries, selling nearly 30 million copies, and sweeping the 2003 GRAMMY Awards with eight wins including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist.
On April 29, Blue Note/UMe will release Come Away With Me: 20th Anniversary Super Deluxe
Edition, a remarkable 44-track collection that captures the emergence of a singular talent and reveals for the first time the full story of the making of this now-classic album. In addition to a remaster of the original album, which was produced by Arif Mardin, the Super Deluxe
Edition also includes 22 previously unreleased tracks including the original demos that Norah submitted to Blue Note, the complete First Session demos she made after being signed, and the first version of the album that Norah made at Allaire Studios with producer Craig
Street, most of which has never been heard before and offers a fascinating look at the album that might have been.
The 20th Anniversary Super Deluxe
Edition was produced by Eli Wolf and will be released digitally and physically as a 4-LP vinyl set and a 3-CD set, both of which come in premium packaging with an extensive booklet featuring new liner notes by Norah and rare session photos. Standalone 1-LP and 1-CD versions of the remastered original album will also be released. All formats are available for pre-order now. The never-before-released original version of Norah's song "Come Away With Me
" from The Allaire Sessions is available to stream or download today.
In February 2002, America
was still emerging from the dark shadows of the September
11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and Norah's voice and music—pure, warm, and reassuring—struck a deep emotional chord with listeners the world over. Norah had moved from Texas
to New York City in 1999 after spending two years as a jazz piano major at the University of North Texas. While playing jazz gigs at restaurants around town, Norah also fell in with a circle of singer-songwriters including Jesse
Harris and Richard Julian who played often at the Living Room on the Lower East Side and inspired her to broaden the creative pathways she might one day take.
On Norah's 21st birthday, EMI Publishing employee Shell White heard her performing at a jazz brunch and arranged a meeting with Blue Note President Bruce Lundvall. A month later Norah was in Lundvall's office playing him her 3-song demo CD, which included two jazz songs: "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" and a remarkably self-assured version of the standard "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most" that Norah had recorded in her high school band room accompanying herself on piano. The last song on the CD was one of Harris' that leaned more in a singer-songwriter direction with Harris on acoustic guitar and Lee Alexander
Soon after, Lundvall signed Norah to a demo deal, and by the time she went into the recording studio she had decided to focus primarily on new originals written by Harris, Alexander, and herself. "The very first song we did in those sessions was one of Jesse's, called 'Don't Know Why' that we hadn't yet played live," Norah recalls in the new collection's liner notes. "We got it on the first try and it just felt great, one of those magical, easy takes. When we walked back into the control room to listen, [engineer] Jay [Newland] was over the moon. It really built my confidence for the rest of the session and set the tone for what we were going for. After all was said and done, it was this version that ended up on the final record, with only some harmonies and a doubled guitar added to it."
Lundvall loved what he heard and signed Norah as a Blue Note artist, and she began to prepare to record her debut album. "Cassandra Wilson's New Moon Daughter had been a favorite album of mine and was a big inspiration for the kind of record I wanted to make," Norah writes. "Since I loved the instrument choices (beautiful slide and acoustic guitars) and the production, I asked Bruce if I could meet with Craig
Street, who produced it. Craig
and I met a few times and got along really well. He liked the demos and said we should put those out as the record or use most of them, but I was really excited to explore a slightly different vibe, one I knew he could help me find."
Norah and Street went into Allaire Studios near Woodstock in upstate New York with some of her favorite musicians including Bill Frisell and Kevin
Breit on guitars, Brian Blade and Kenny Wollesen on drums, Rob Burger on accordion and organ, and Alexander
on bass. "Nearly everything we recorded felt special. We re-recorded most of the songs from the demos to see where else we could take them," Norah recalls. But during the mixing session Norah began to question whether they had gone too far with some of the songs and wondered if Street had been right about the strength of the demos.
After delivering the Allaire mixes to Blue Note, Lundvall came to the same conclusion that the new recordings had strayed too far from what was so special about the demos. It was decided that Norah should go back into the studio to start again with Arif Mardin producing. They ended up keeping three songs from the Allaire sessions ("Seven Years," "Feelin' The Same Way," and "The Long Day Is Over"), two from the demo sessions ("Don't Know Why
" and "Turn Me On
"), and recorded nine additional songs that hewed more closely to the spirit of the demos. The resulting album became Come Away With Me.
Now, 20 years later, Norah decided to release the Allaire version of the album. "It's been a bit like time traveling to some alternate universe of the album that nobody ever heard," she says. "When I approached Craig
to tell him about it, he suggested we ask Tony Maserati to 'balance' the recordings. This brought my vocal to the front more and I can finally hear my little 22-year-old self trying new things and fitting into the music around me just fine. Re-visiting these sessions after listening to them only once in the last 20 years has been a lovely surprise. I'm so glad to finally re-unite with Craig
and get a chance to finish what we started together. I learned a lot from him, and I always think of that time upstate as a sort of dreamy fantasy, and I still get that feeling when I listen to these recordings."
As Norah reflects back upon Come Away With Me, she says "I was incredibly proud of this album and so thankful to everyone who made it with me…I figured it was a good first try and felt that it truly captured who I was - musically - at that time, which made me the proudest and is all you can really hope for when making a record. In the end I was so thankful that I got to explore a few different paths before putting them all together. No one, including the label, had any idea it would reach the success that it did. I'm forever grateful to Bruce and the very special team at Blue Note for giving me the chance to find my sound through all of it and for never telling me who I had to be."
Come Away With Me—20th Anniversary Super Deluxe
Edition - Track Listing:
Come Away With Me - 20th Anniversary Remaster
1 Don't Know Why
3 Cold Cold Heart
4 Feelin' The Same Way
5 Come Away With Me
6 Shoot The Moon
7 Turn Me On
9 I've Got To See You Again
10 Painter Song
11 One Flight Down
13 The Long Day Is Over
14 The Nearness Of You
Can Really Hang You Up the Most
2 Walkin' My Baby Back Home
3 World of Trouble
First Sessions Outtakes
4 The Only Time
5 I Didn't Know About You
6 Something Is Calling
You (tabla version)
7 Just Like A Dream
8 When Sunny Gets Blue
9 What Am I To You
10 Hallelujah I Love Him So
All tracks above previously unreleased
First Sessions EP
12 Don't Know Why
13 Come Away With Me
14 Something Is Calling
15 Turn Me On
These 6 demos previously released as the promo-only First Sessions EP
DISC 3 - The Allaire Sessions
1 I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
2 I've Got To See You Again *
3 What Would I Do
4 Come Away With Me *
5 Picture In A Frame **
6 Nightingale *
7 Peace *
8 What Am I To You *
9 Painter Song *
10 Turn Me On *
11 A Little
At A Time
12 One Flight Down *
* alternate version
** alternate mix
All tracks previously unreleased except "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" and "Picture In A Frame"
first emerged on the world stage with the February 2002 release of Come Away With Me, her self-described "moody little record" that introduced a singular new voice and grew into a global phenomenon, sweeping the 2003 GRAMMY Awards. Since then, Jones has become a nine-time GRAMMY-winner, sold more than 50 million albums, and her songs have been streamed six billion times worldwide. She has released a series of critically acclaimed and commercially successful solo albums—Feels Like Home (2004), Not Too Late
(2007), The Fall (2009), Little
Broken Hearts (2012), Day Breaks (2016), Pick Me Up Off The Floor (2020), the live album 'Til We Meet Again (2021), and her first-ever holiday album I Dream
Of Christmas (2021)—as well as albums with her collective bands The Little
Willies, El Madmo, and Puss N Boots featuring Sasha
Dobson and Catherine Popper who released their second LP Sister in 2020. The 2010 compilation …Featuring Norah Jones
showcased her incredible versatility by collecting her collaborations with artists as diverse as Willie Nelson, Foo Fighters, Outkast, and Herbie Hancock. Since 2018 Jones has been releasing a series of singles including collaborations with artists and friends such as Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy, Thomas
Bartlett, Tarriona Tank Ball, Rodrigo Amarante, and Brian Blade, some of which were compiled on the 2019 singles collection Begin Again.