Eight million people responded, and with one record Jones set a lofty benchmark for a new generation of singer-songwriters.
She returns with a shimmering second studio album that reminds us why she’s so likeable. "Feels Like Home," much like that first release, gracefully crosses the boundaries of pop, folk and jazz. It also follows her successful recipe of combining some sweet originals with a few choice covers.
"Feels Like Home," however, is a rootsier, grittier affair than the first. Jones was wise enough to not make the same album as she did in 2002, and "Feels Like Home" is more eclectic and lively.
The result is an even better CD than her monster debut, "Come Away With Me," which suffered from having too many sound-alike, mid-tempo tunes.
Jones has writing credits on seven of the new numbers. (Jesse Harris, who penned "Don’t Know Why" and four other songs on the first CD doesn’t have any on the new release, but he does play guitar on a couple of tunes.)
The opener, "Sunrise," is a typical Jones number - gentle and breezy. With her serene voice and laconic style, she coos dreamily, "Sunrise, Sunrise, Couldn’t tempt us if it tried."
From there, things start to get more interesting. The next song, "What Am I To You?," is a slow, blues-tinged number that features some of Jones’ most soulful vocals. Like many of Jones’ songs, it has a timeless quality about it. It’s a song that could have rolled off the lips of Patsy Cline or Nina Simone.
"Feels Like Home" also features covers of Townes Van Zandt and Tom Waits. The Waits’ cover of "Take the Long Way Home" is particularly good with Jones giving it a nice shuffling gait.
There’s also a duet with Dolly Parton. Parton’s sunny vocals rub off on Jones as they twang and romp through the song written by bassist Lee Alexander. It is one of the most upbeat numbers in Jones’ growing catalog. Although the album isn’t a radical shift, singing with Parton is a sure sign that the young Texan is in a country state of mind on this CD.
In other words, fans who have been hoping to hear Jones, who records on the famed Blue Note jazz label, wrap her dusky pipes around a set of standards just have to wait. She does, however, offer a delicious tease. Jones closes the CD with a song called "Don’t Miss You At All," in which she added lyrics to Duke Ellington’s "Melancholia."
It’s a fitting end - Jones alone at the piano, performing a song that’s both old and new, jazz and pop. The tender performance leaves listeners wanting more and raising the question, "What will she do next?"
"Feels Like Home" proves that Jones is not only living up to her potential, but surpassing it and becoming one of the most original voices around.