Rickie Lee Jones | Balm in Gilead

Fantasy (2009)
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  December 2, 2009
4.0 4.0 Stars


It’s astonishing to think that Rickie Lee Jones would turn out an album this organic and free of cynicism 30 years after her debut with the star-making, retro-hipster hit “Chuck E.’s in Love.” Particularly since her songwriting has always been so acutely self-aware.

Nonetheless, this beautiful disc needs only her sweet muted-trumpet voice and optimistic viewpoint to sail gracefully through its 10 songs, which range from the ’40s-style guitar chamber jazz of “The Moon Is Made of Gold” to the moaning, feedback-dappled hymn to transcendence that’s “His Jeweled Floor.” So it’s a bonus that Vic Chesnutt and Victoria Williams join her to form a chorus on the latter, and that Ben Harper adds his honeyed pipes to “Old Enough,” a song about an ebbing relationship, with a sunny doo-wop arrangement.

Alison Krauss also appears, crystallizing the country weeper “Remember Me” with her warm, expressive violin. Brimming with hope, Jones’s 14th album is a balm indeed.

RICKIE LEE JONES | Berklee Performance Center, 136 Mass Ave, Boston | December 6 at 7 pm | $33-$50 | ticketmaster.com or 800.745.3000

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