Norah Jones has been on an upward trajectory for a while. With her last album released in 2021, I Dream of Christmas, her new release Visions will no doubt delight her passionate fanbase. Jones once again brings her signature mixture of pop, folk and jazz to make this 12-track moment an almost psychedelic experience, with its haunting backing vocals turning the album into a kaleidoscope. 

The majority of the album is collaborative work by producer Leon Michels. Jones and Michels are long-term partners in the musical sense, with him producing many of her past tracks, including some from I Dream of Christmas. 

The album is incredibly raw and emotional, making for an intriguing listen. Jones also has an undoubtedly soothing voice that lends effortlessly to every tempo and transcends genres to create shivers. You don’t need to feel anything in particular, to feel connected to Jones’s music here—the pleasantness of the sound alone is enough to leave a deep, lasting impression even if you forgo all the other brilliant elements she offers here. 

The album opens with ‘All This Time.’ In the song, the subject on the first listen seems to be a past lover moving on. Jones repeatedly sings that staying with them would ‘make it easy’ and their presence ‘made her love and made her live.’ The backing vocals turn the song into a calling reminiscent of sirens, which continually draw in the listener, almost like they are the subject being enticed to stay. 

‘Staring At The Wall’ changes the tempo dramatically in the transition from track 1 to track 2. The song is upbeat, joyful and fun, with a potent vibrancy. Exploring the universal theme of desiring escapism, Jones recently described the song as a ‘left turn’ from the rest of the album. Imagine yourself in an airport, with two destinations spread before you. If the rest of Visions is one potential destination, ‘Staring At The Wall’ is that other way. The lyrics reflect this airport metaphor directly, especially in the line ‘need to travel out of my brain.’ 

‘Paradise’ is one of the few tracks from Visions that currently has a music video attached. Set against the beautiful background of Santa Monica Pier, the video depicts excited young people at a carnival, doing activities while Norah sings, positioned at a brightly coloured piano. Against the lyrics, some of which include ‘I try to stop/waiting for the pain to drop’, a fairground is an apt location, especially considering Jones is present on a rollercoaster during this line. Therefore, the oxymoron of this bright, excitable space contrasts powerfully with the, at times, melancholic lyrics. 



‘Queen of the Sea’ provides a sultry hint of country. Jones leans heavily on the idea of whether love can overcome challenges. The track starts optimistically and poignantly before shifting into the perspective of realising that sometimes you need to be set free from specific situations to find yourself. Against this sultry background, the song depicts a journey of self-discovery in this sense. Jones acknowledges the ‘mess made’ repeatedly throughout the track, reinforcing that this relationship being described is increasingly unhealthy. ‘Queen of the Sea’ is undoubtedly one of the album’s best, demonstrating Jones’ ability to cross genres and effectively employ juxtaposing metaphors in the ‘Queen of the Sea’ and ‘King of the Gloom’ symbolisms. 

The title track ‘Visions’ is reminiscent of Jones’ signature calming sound. It showcases an almost eclectic mix of instruments that come together to produce a robust backing, primarily guitars and trumpets mixed with vocals. 

‘Running’ is a slow, meditative pop tune. The lead single from the album, released on January 18, alongside a music video, coincided with the announcement of the name Visions. Jones called the single soulful yet garagey, and even before the album’s release, the song did a more than adequate job of attracting audiences in preparation for its arrival, notably after she performed the track on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. One of the best things about this track is the multiple layers, with the consistent ‘keep running away’ in the background and an incredibly soothing melody. This vibe fits with Jones’ interpretation of her track, as the pacing reflects the dreamlike state Jones claims to have conceptualised the song. 



Dancing, or not dancing, or both, is a common theme in music lately. I remember P!NK’s ‘Never Gonna Not Dance Again’, and Jones has given us a very different track type with ‘I Just Wanna Dance.’ The lyrics are predominantly singular, almost entirely of ‘I don’t wanna talk about it / I just wanna dance.’ Nonetheless, the groove and the vocals make this song upbeat and romantic despite its perceived simplicity.

It’s indisputable that Jones is a talented instrumentalist. With ‘I’m Awake,’ listeners are shown this through piano strokes. The song is reminiscent of childhood’s delightful flickers, convincingly drawing listeners in.

Track 9 is titled ‘Swept Up In The Night.’ The night, and the evening, are some of the most common themes in this album, even down to the album’s initial ‘conception.’ Jones has said a lot of the album came to her ‘in the middle of the night or right before sleep’ hence the title. Consequently, it makes definite sense that this proves to be a recurrence throughout. ‘Swept Up In The Night’ also has an extra level of excitement as it features an omnicord, an electronic instrument that produces an automatic accompaniment while heroing the use of a harp sensor. It’s not something often used in modern music, but producer Leon Michels had one on hand, and it lends beautifully to the experimentation present on Visions. 

We then get a soft flirtatious pop tune titled ‘On My Way.’ While it’s undemanding, it’s still sweet as it echoes the protagonist charming her lover. This sentiment is reflected in the doubles at the end of each line, such as ‘dark-dark’ and ‘night-night.’ It’s a lush tune that comes across as tender and almost nostalgic. 

Track 11, ‘Alone With My Thoughts,’ once again echoes a universal message in exploring the reassurance of finding hope in isolation. It’s one of the slowest tracks on the album, which, in this case, is saying a lot. ‘AWMT’ also echoes the idea of thinking things over and through while considering the time ahead. This year has felt pretty quick so far—already, it’s March, and this track is poignant partially because of this.

Visions closes with ‘That’s Life.’ Jones utilises powerful paradoxes to address the acceptance of what life may bring, and it’s a fitting end to the album. Going up, going down, waking up to sweet sounds, falling asleep to the same sounds. Jones’ voice almost sounds tongue in cheek when she says, ‘That’s life’ in a tone that sounds like you can hear the smiles. After all, it is almost like Jones is questioning the genuine depth of it, like, ‘Is it that bad?’

The exuberant cheerfulness Jones brings to this fact is something we could have more of now.