Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper are the band Puss n Boots, a group whose No Fools, No Fun release lives up to the collective talent of the individuals involved in the project. Each member is often playing an instrument other than her regular one but, based on the impressive quality of the sound, you would not know it.
Jones joins on electric guitar, fiddle, and vocals. All three members sing, and the effective harmonies draw in the listener. Singer-songwriters Dobson and Popper (best known for her work with Jack White, Grace Potter and Ryan Adams) both deliver comforting, tuneful instrumentation with a pulse. Moreover, there is just the right amount of twang in the alt country-folk-rock sound of this talented trio.
There is a cozy quality to the music. Even when the narrator is telling off someone on Jones’ "Don't Know What It Means," you want to hear more because there is something warm about the music itself.
At the same time, there also is bite, as is especially felt in some of the more bitter melody moments on the cover of Wilco’s “Jesus, Etc." At times, one almost hopes the sound of this collection of covers and originals will take a direction more into Mazzy Star type territory, but the songs are comfortable where they are, right where they belong.
This album will entertain Jones’ plethora of fans looking for something different but still familiar. It is remarkable how easily Jones flows with the songs and with her bandmates. A superstar she is but, first and foremost, she is a musician through and through.
She sings with allure, humor and, of course, perfectly nuanced pitch. Songs that sound great with the Indigo Girls and Johnny Cash feel like home right away in the hands of this group, accessible and textured. Relatedly, the live cover of Neil Young's "Down by the River," in its own way, lives up to the spirit of the original, which is not an easy feat.
There is something unassuming about Puss n Boots’ No Fools, No Fun album, like this is a band that enjoys making music, and just happens to be supremely talented. While the group rarely ventures too far from its own niche, no one could make this dynamic music any better than Puss n Boots.