ADVERTISEMENT

Country/Pop

Puss ‘n’ Boots

No Fools, No Fun

[Blue Note]

3 stars

When last we heard from Norah Jones, she was singing close harmony with Billy Joe Armstrong on the lovely Everly Brothers tribute “Foreverly.” The beautiful place where classic pop and traditional country meet was fertile ground for Jones, and it’s ground that she wisely returns to with her latest project.

Puss ‘n’ Boots is a trio comprised of Jones, Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper, three veteran musicians who began playing together for kicks in New York City clubs several years back. Buoyed by the easygoing nature of their collaboration, the three dedicated themselves to a full collection blending country and folk classics, personal favorites, and new compositions.

“No Fools, No Fun” is, much like “Foreverly,” all about the vocal harmonies. Jones, Dobson and Popper have voices that blend beautifully, and each is equally adept at stepping out front to handle the melody or falling back to cover the harmony, as the song demands. An easy-going, relaxed and casually joyful air pervades. And the song selections – among them tunes by Neil Young, Tom Paxton, Rodney Crowell, Roger Miller, Robbie Robertson, and Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett are incredibly astute.

Refreshingly irony-free – these three are not trying to be cute or play-acting here, as a beautiful live rendition of Young’s “Down by the River” makes more than plain – the collection is bolstered by the original compositions, most notably Dobson’s “Sex Degrees of Separation,” Jones’ “Don’t Know What it Means” and Popper’s “Pines.” Sultry and sensual without ever over-stating those attributes, “No Fools, No Fun” is a gentle caress of an album.

– Jeff Miers