The nine-time Grammy winner previews 'Day Breaks,' due Oct. 7
Credit: Douglas Mason/Getty Images

At home in Brooklyn, Norah Jones keeps her piano in an unusual place: her kitchen, where she’ll sometimes go and practice late at night. “It’s fun to sit down real quick and just play,” the nine-time Grammy winner says.

In recent years, Jones, 37, hasn’t always been as excited to do so. Her sixth solo album, Day Breaks, due Oct. 7, marks a return to the piano following several years of favoring the guitar. After pushing the limits of her sound with country-fried riffs and swirling synths on 2012’s Danger Mouse-produced Little Broken Hearts, a series of solo piano shows last year steered her back toward the cozy, more traditional jazz sounds of her landmark 2002 debut, Come Away With Me. “Rather than thinking, ‘It’s time to get back to my roots,’ I definitely was just inspired to do this music,” she says. “I just had so much fun playing piano.”

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When it came to her lyrics, however, Jones drew from a not-so-fun source: the news. “There’s a lot going on—race relations, terrorism, people going nuts and shooting each other,” she says. “If you watch the news, you’re basically going to stay up all night worrying.”

So Jones channeled her anxieties about the state of the world into songs like the frenetic “Flipside,” which references gun violence, and a hopeful cover of “Peace,” Horace Silver’s 1959 jazz standard that she first recorded as a bonus track for her debut album. “It’s true that you get inspired by darkness,” she says. “Even when I’m in a good place, I could have one dark day and get a good song out of it.”