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But at the time it was just very…’ She falls silent for a moment. Some people maybe have a goal like that, to reach that kind of fame.But when you don’t have a goal like that, like me, you reach it, and it’s like, OK, what do I do now to maintain loving music and not going crazy?Because I thought I’d rather just quit music than do this all the time.

She recorded three further albums, which between them have sold 27 million copies, making her the biggest-selling female artist of the 2000s.

A fifth album, Little Broken Hearts, is released next week, co-written and produced by Brian Burton, or Danger Mouse as he is known ('I call him Mr Mouse,’ Jones jokes), the multi-instrumentalist/producer best known for his work with Gnarls Barkley and Beck.

Having weathered the rocky start, Jones attributes her continued endurance to having 'taken control’, drawing a clear line between being a musician and being public property – or, as she puts it, 'it’s learning about how to live normally and make music normally and not get too caught up in the game.’ An essential part of this seems to be cultivating the art of not drawing attention to herself. When Jones walks into the restaurant in London where we have arranged to have lunch, nobody looks twice.

When Norah Jones released her first album, Come Away With Me, in 2002, her expectations were distinctly modest.

Jones, who was 22 and who had been raised by a single mother in Texas, had been in New York for only two years, singing in restaurants and small clubs while working part-time as a waitress to support herself.

The height of her ambition, she now remembers, was 'to stop waiting tables’.

An album of smoky, low-key ballads, almost bashful in its understated good taste, Come Away With Me went on to sell more than 20 million copies.

Nobody in their right mind would have predicted it.

For Jones herself, suddenly cast into a media storm, it was a profoundly unsettling experience.

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