Top positive review
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Rewarding on so many different levels
on 20 August 2003
It seems strange that when someone mentions "great female singer-songwriters", very few can come up with the name Rickie Lee Jones.
Well, Jones is not only one of the great female singer-songwriters but she is also one of the great songwriters of any gender and generation and her buoyant, energetic debut proves it.
Released in 1979 but mostly recorded during 1978, when Jones was still just 23 years old, RICKIE LEE JONES is one of the forgotten albums of the last 25-30 years, a huge hit when first released but forgotten soon afterwards. If all you have to go on is "Chuck E.'s in Love", you don't know much about Rickie Lee.
This record encompasses so much feeling and plenty of different genres; Jones seems comfortable with rock, pop, funk, R&B, jazz and folk, and she is an able pianist and a sublime guitarist. "Chuck E.'s in Love", her only major hit, is a great swinging, jazzy tune but not the best cut on the album.
Jones' humour is displayed on "Chuck. E", the similarly upbeat be-bop of "Danny's All Star-Joint" and the lounge jazz-y "Easy Money", which in effect set the ball rolling for Jones when Little Feat frontman Lowell George first recorded it.
But she shows unmatched emotion on such cuts as "On Saturday Afternoons in 1963", a piano ballad that has become one of Tori Amos' favoured live covers, the cabaret of "Company" and, particularly, on the beautiful "The Last Chance Texaco", one of the album's best compositions.
Jones' hipster chick persona comes across on "Coolsville" and the groovy "Weasel and the White Boys Cool", both peppered with interesting characters (the album is consistent in that characters such as 'Bragger' appear more than once), but she is not gimmicky by any means (she really did lead the "jazz lifestyle").
RICKIE LEE JONES is an album that combines so many different musical elements it is rewarding on numerous levels. With each listen, new touches and flourishes leap out and it sounds remarkably fresh, 25 years after its original release. Her vocal mannerisms may put some people off (she has a tendency to change volume frequently and miss out letters of words), but no one can deny she is a vocalist of immense elasticity and a songwriter of extraordinary depth.
After you've heard this, you'll be addicted. PIRATES is next...