By Rathan Paul Harshavardan
Released Friday July 11th, 2014 - UMusic
Bull Rider, a Johnny Cash original, covered by Puss n Boots is the source of their title No Fools, No Fun. Johnny Cash has obviously been a major influence on the album, he's been covered twice on the album and his work obviously baptises the debut effort by Puss n Boots. Switching genres is the trick du jour for recording artists, a little push into the unknown stimulates the artistic minds. Very few people can successfully make the transition and unfortunately Norah Jonesdoesn't do a very successful job at it.
No Fools, No Fun is the first full-length album Norah Jones has put out since forming Puss n Boots with singer-songwriter Sasha Dobson and Jack White's bassist Catherine Popper in 2008. The Grammy-winning jazz singer played bars in Brooklyn and New York with her pals before putting this hodge-podge of an album out. Classified as a country-themed album, the whole record is oddly listed on iTunes under the Alternative Country, Rock, Adult Alternative and some other confusing categories, when all it should be is folk music.
The album is a collection of live performances, covers and original tracks. Jones takes the lead on most of the tracks, switching between jazz and country with harmonies and melodies supported by Dobson and Popper. Of the four live tracks recorded at The Bell House, Brooklyn NY, Bull Rider is the best. Simple lyrics backed with a folksy tune, it is the perfect set up for the band that should stick to live music and small bars.
Seven of the fourteen tracks are covers of popular and obscure country music artists over the years. Artists like Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Tom Paxton, The Band, George Jones, Wilco, Jeb Loy Nichols and Ted Lewis And His Band form the plethora of artists Puss n Boots take their musical inspiration from. The originals tracks written and performed by the trio showcase the musicality of Popper, Dobson and Jones in a familiar style, the overdose of harmonies being a distinct feature on them. Crooning melodies, really tight harmonies - appreciative to an extent - and the strumming of guitars does nothing to differentiate the tracks that are on the album, making it a disappointment.
There is no doubt about the musical genius the three women bring to Puss n Boots. They're all successful women in their own genre, but Jones' jazzy voice is the only one that seems out of place in most of the work. The album is an average attempt at switching genres, but has some nice work nonetheless. Unfortunately like the final track 'You'll Forget Me', No Fools, No Fun needs to be forgotten. What a shame that none of the tracks really stick in your head, even after repeated listening to an album that has Grammy-winner Norah Jones on it. A producer like Jack White or Frank Rogers needs to hop on Puss n Boots' team if they need to sell music that goes beyond easy listening in the future.