When I first saw the press release from Blue Note that there was a new release on the horizon for Norah Jones I Dream of Christmas, I instantly knew I must have been a good boy this year. I have been a long-time fan of Norah Jones and her otherworldly vocals. I always imagined she would do a stellar Holiday album if she ever was motivated to do one. I no longer need to wonder and it looks like we will all get the treat of hearing her spread some holiday cheer this year.
Norah Jones I Dream of Christmas Overview
The album is released on Blue Note and the track list for I Dream of Christmas includes a collection of timeless seasonal favorites along with new originals from Norah Jones. Release date is 10/15/2021 for Blue Note and staggers for various retailers. This gives us lots of time to enjoy the new album over the holiday season.
Timeless and Classic Christmas Tunes Selected
For the classic and traditional Christmas songs selected, the album has a wonderful mixture and the arrangements and production is top notch. Highlights include versions of “White Christmas,” “Blue Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “Christmas Time Is Here". There is also an interesting take on The Chipmunk’s “Christmas Don’t Be Late” by David Seville complete with a languid beat and horns (see video tab to hear the song). When asked about the classic Christmas songs she chose to perform on I Dream of Christmas album Norah had the following to say.
“When I was trying to figure out which direction to take, the original songs started popping in my head,” Norah explains. “They were all about trying to find the joys of Christmas, catching that spark, that feeling of love and inclusion that I was longing for during the rest of the year. Then there are all the classics that have that special nostalgia that can hit you no matter who or where you are in life. It was hard to narrow down, but I picked favorite classics that I knew I could make my own.” BlueNote.com
Original Songs on the Norah Jones I Dream of Christmas Album
The originals written for the album explore her hopes that the holidays this year will be full of joy for everyone in these complicated and trying times we are living in. To me the standout and favorite was "Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones)". It captures the what she was looking to accomplish by expressing her longing for holiday cheer and companionship. This was the single they released to promote the album and you can check it out on the video tab.
Album Flow and Tracks
The flow of the album of course works, it is all holiday music so kind of hard to mess that up. On a serious note, they did a good job with the track listing and mixing the new originals in between the classics. Overall the I Dream of Christmas album by Norah Jones has a nice flow of lighthearted favorites and more serious moments that never keeps us too somber. The stand out tracks for me were “White Christmas", Winter Wonderland”, and “Christmas Time Is Here" along with the original "Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones)".
I was especially curious to see how she approached "White Christmas" since it has been covered by next to everyone they are always overshadowed by the definitive Bing Crosby debut from '42. I was pleasantly surprised that Norah went an entire different direction and made it more up-tempo with jazz swings. It is a nice to see a new spin on an old classic. I do not listen to a lot of holiday music but this will be getting played a fair bit in my house over the holidays for years to come.
Norah Jones I Dream of Christmas Review of Packaging
I wrote the review early so unfortunately I have not received my physical copy. From the press release we can expect a single disc non-Gatefold. There are not usually a lot of pressing defects from Blue Note so expecting everything to be good on that end. There is a CD and vinyl release of the album along with digital availability. I went with the White vinyl that was the Amazon exclusive since I thought it looked nice with the holiday theme.
Sound / Mastering / Pressing Quality
Again, I do not have my physical disc so cannot go into detail on the pressing quality. Going off the listen I did on lossless digital, all the songs sound great and their was definitely effort put into the release to make them Norah's own. As usual, Norah has a stellar line-up of musicians on I Dream of Christmas. This includes an outstanding brass duo of Dave Guy (trumpet) and Raymond Mason (Trombone). Brian Blade on drums does an incredible job on this holiday release and the rest of the band include Pahl on pedal steel, Hughes on cello and Michels on sax and flute.
Norah Jones I Dream of Christmas Review of Lyrics / Music
I thought the jazz musicians were top notch on this release and the vocals from Norah was outstanding as usual. After so much time and albums have passed I sometimes forget what a treat it is to hear Norah sing and this album reminded of that. Hearing Norah sing classic songs and adding her own spin on them just makes me realize what a true talent is. The original songs I were all good with "Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones)" as the standout. Love the lyrics on Christmas Calling, "I wanna be a Jolly Jones / Instead of feeling all alone / I sing a song, that fells like home". It captures exactly what Norah wanted to accomplish with the message of the new songs and something all of us can relate to in the times we have had over the past 2 years. Overall the Norah Jones I dream of Christmas has been our favorite new holiday album for 2021.
Norah Jones Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones) Video
Norah Jones - Christmas Don't Be Late Video
Norah Jones I Dream of Christmas Track List
1. "Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones)"
2. "Christmas Don't Be Late"
3. "Christmas Glow"
4. "White Christmas"
6. "Blue Christmas"
7. "It's Only Christmas Once a Year"
8. "You're Not Alone"
9. "Winter Wonderland"
10. "A Holiday with You"
11. "Run Rudolph Run"
12. "Christmas Time Is Here"
13. "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"
Total length: 42:21
Release Date: October 15, 2021
Label: Blue Note
Producer: Leon Michels
Norah Jones: piano; Brian Blade: drums; Leon Michels : percussion; Tony Scherr: bass; Nick Movshon: bass, electric; Dave Guy: trumpet; Marika Hughes: cello; Russ Pahl: guitar; Raymond Mason: trombone.