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Come Away with Me is mostly an album of warm, languid pop songs. There are touches of jazz--a stand-up bass here, an offbeat drum there--but Jones' voice doesn't have the rogue spirit required for improvisation or the range for sudden emotional bursts. Her singing is beautiful, but her pacing and delivery owe a greater debt to pop artists like James Taylor and Carole King than to Billie Holiday or Nina Simone. Of course, that could change. Jones is so new to her career that her recent influences leave fresh imprints. "I'm into country now," she says with glee. Sure Enough, Come Away with Me has a Hank Williams cover, and the title track has echoes of her new hero, Willie Nelson.
Blue Note has branched out in recent years, but Lundvall was still caught by surprise when he heard Come Away with Me. He asked Jones to rerecord some of the material to try to make it sound more like the jazz standards he had expected, but ultimately he decided to let the album stand as it was. "The rules were broken a long time ago, and I'm certainly not going to let her go anywhere else," says Lundvall.
Jones got her way with Blue Note, but flitting into the public eye has forced her to confront the dangling issue of her famous father. Shankar, 81, has said he regrets not playing a greater role in his daughter's life. In early February, when Jones played a Manhattan show, Shankar, who often plays concert dates with another daughter, Anoushka, 20, for the first time saw his older daughter perform. The subject makes Jones uncomfortable: "I don't want to bash my dad--I love my dad--but I don't want to give him credit for something he didn't do. I grew up with my mom, and he wasn't around."
Her directness, both about her family and with her record company, will serve Jones well in the months to come. "When someone gets this kind of exposure, audiences sometimes condition themselves to be disappointed," says Lundvall. "Did he really say that?" asks Jones, laughing. "He's so honest. God, I didn't make this record to make a statement to the world. I just wanted to make a record that's fun and work with cool people." So far, so good.