Rickie Lee Jones

By - Dec 1st, 2003 02:52 pm
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By John Hughes

RICKIE LEE JONESThe Evening of My Best DayV2 Recordswww.rickieleejones.com

Rickie Lee Jones’ new CD The Evening of My Best Day feels like two separate outings rolled into one. The first three songs make up Outing #1, and they are not compelling. They sound like a reprise of her great album “Pirates,” diluted heavily with a poor woman’s version of “The Hissing of Summer Lawns.” Cheerful flutes were never cool.

The album then whips around a corner, beginning with the fourth song, “Little Mysteries,” and from that point on, for nine consecutive songs, Jones and band unveil a highly original sound. The songwriting is exploratory, novel, accessing the further reaches of pop creativity. The vocalizing, musicianship and production values synthesize to create an unprecedented experience for the listener. It’s as if Jones has invented a new genre of music.

The effect of listening to this music must be something similar to the experience viewers had when first seeing Expressionist painting. Your primary reaction is a question, like ‘what’s she doing here?’ or ‘What is this?’ It’s an experiment in mystery through which flit the ghosts of soul, blues, gospel, jazz, folk and rock music forms. It’s a survey of human emotions, a cataloguing, from the foundational perspective of erotic melancholy.

She signed some of the finest musicians available to help her on this journey: Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, Ben Harper, bassist Rob Wasserman, her longtime associate Sal Bernardi, guitarist Bill Frisell, and rock iconoclast Grant Lee Phillips, along with her co-producer, David Kalish. The talent was allowed to breathe; you can feel their playfulness and good chemistry in every cut.

Jones has made so much outstanding music in her career, with so little fanfare, that she can be called The Anonymous Legend. The last nine songs here are the most convincing evidence she’s ever recorded of that epithet.

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