Jones' crown as the queen of easiest listening seems untouchable but the biggest question 'Not Too Late' throws up is does she really want things to stay that way? More time-demanding and ultimately less satisfying than its predecessors, Jones' third album has some - but not enough - of the signs of an artist who's trying to make sure they're not put in the same box forever.

While the songs stick to the pace she's famous for, some of Jones' lyrics now have a political edge - the characteristically beguiling 'Wish I Could' says "love in the time of war is not fair"; the shanty stomp of 'Sinkin' Soon' lampoons "a captain who's too proud to say that he dropped the oar" and 'My Dear Country' warns that "nothing is as scary as election day".

The disappointment here is that her most forceful lyrics aren't backed up by her strongest material. The first album to be made up entirely of tracks written or co-written by Jones, 'Not Too Late' is a few songs too long and settles into the comfort zone of her previous work too often. It's always pleasant but sometimes easy to drift too far away from what's going on. A pity, because at its best it suggests an artist who has more depth than her detractors would give her credit for.

The challenge now is to confound them and her fans alike.

Harry Guerin