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Nora York: What I Want

What do you get when listening to Nora York? A little Sting, a bit of Joni Mitchell and a whole lot of wonderful. On her third album, What I Want (Say Yes), the dynamic performance artist turned singer-songwriter follows in the eclectic footsteps of her previous releases, To Dream the World and the hard-to-find, Japanese-only Alchemy, juxtaposing eras, genres and attitudes to create a series of bold, brave sound sculptures. Consider the title track, which bundles its theme of nagging, indefinable discontent in countrified effervescence; or “Artificial Paradise,” with its fizzy, techno-pop defamation of the hollow idols that have come to too strongly define our society; or “Another Day,” with its bouncy calypso-esque beat that underscores a paean to crumbled dreams and the invigorating rebirth that inevitably follows; or the hardscrabble, anonymous existence of a struggling single mother so starkly, heartbreakingly exposed in “Donna.” Add to this a near-mystical “Ruby Tuesday” and a keenly introspective “Stand By Your Man,” and you know you’re dealing with an intensely sharp-witted fatalist who is as gifted an emotional puppeteer as she is a poet.

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