Norah Jones "Playdate" (2020 Record Store Day Black Friday EP)

For Record Store Day Black Friday in 2020, jazz-pop singer/pianist Norah Jones issued a 7-song, 12-inch vinyl EP titled Playdate, containing songs recorded in 2019 and 2020 which were otherwise unavailable on vinyl. The EP was limited to 2,000 copies.

According to the Record Store Day website, Playdate collected B-sides and bonus tracks from Jones’ 2020 studio album Pick Me Up Off The Floor. In truth, only three of the tracks actually seem to fit this description: “Tryin’ To Keep It Together” and “Street Stranger” were bonus tracks on Target stores’ exclusive CD version of the album (as well as some European and Japanese editions), while the former track and “I’ll Be Gone” (the latter a smooth soul duet with r&b veteran Mavis Staples) were both bonus tracks on the digital Deluxe Edition of the album. The other four tracks were issued on non-album digital singles the previous year, those tracks being two collaborations with Brazilian folk-rocker Rodrigo Amarante and two other tracks recorded with Tarriona “Tank” Ball (of the New Orleans funk outfit called Tank And The Bangas). To my ears, this EP is actually not an ideal companion piece to Pick Me Up Off The Floor, because its sounds are less dynamic than the ones on the album. However, Playdate does stand well on its own, coming across as a cohesive work despite the diversity of Jones’ playmates and the unlikely assembling of seemingly unrelated tracks.

The seven tracks included on Playdate are fairly consistent in their soothing jazz and r&b arrangements, even though some of the songs (especially the two Target bonus tracks) betray an underlying feeling of tension, while others (“I Forgot” and the slightly hip-hop-treated “Playing Along”) have a more playful nature. Playdate is a worthwhile EP which manages to handily compile a small set of musical loose-ends without unevenness.

Norah Jones “Playdate” EP (Blue Note B003266001) 2020

Track Listing:

1. Falling (with Rodrigo Amarante)
2. I’ll Be Gone (with Mavis Staples)
3. Street Stranger
4. Take It Away (featuring Tarriona “Tank” Ball)
5. Playing Along (with Tarriona “Tank” Ball)
6. I Forgot (with Rodrigo Amarante)
7. Tryin’ To Keep It Together