Rickie Lee Jones
THE OTHER SIDE OF DESIRE
I love Rickie Lee Jones so much – and yet I always play catch-up, let a few years slide by and have an album or two (or three) to catch up with. I’ve just got to this – her fourth album of covers. Anyone else and you might think they no longer had anything to say or no new ways to say it – but the idiosyncratic journey of Jones, since being catapulted to fame as a boho beatnik Coolsville kid that was all things folk and jazz and all at once, has shown plenty of great original songs, so many new colours being added to the palette constantly and she does the best covers – both in selection and execution.
My favourite of her covers records will always be It’s Like This – it’s also my favourite RLJ album, sometimes it feels like my favourite record by anyone ever and in fact it transcends that too, feeling like a book or a movie, something to hold in your hands, your head and your heart.
But Kicks, the new one (well, a year old now) is up there. Up there, for starting with Bad Company’s title song and turning it into a lurching, cool-groove blues-soul slug that feels a bit like something Lucinda Williams would do. Up there for the dream-pop evocations (Quicksilver Girl) and the gorgeous way she has with a standard, making it postcard-convenient and a deep-read letter all at once (You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You, Mack The Knife).
I think Jones’ greatest skill as a covers artist is in her ability to make the oldest, most done songs feel fresh, feel new and alive.
She can also take a well-worn weepie and just dress it up in something different while still conveying the correct tone. So it is here with Skeeter Davis’ 1962 down-in-the-dumps ballad, The End Of The World – a song for these times too, sadly, right?
And the closer here is a version of Johnny Ray’s great ode to wallowing, Cry. To hear Rickie Lee sing in a voice people half her age could only hope to still have, joined by the weep of a pedal steel line and a mournful bit of clarinet…well, that’s just folks. Jazz, pop, standards. Rock. Blues. It’s all in this and all in the soul and seep and being of this album.
You can support Off The Tracks via PressPatron