Album: Rickie Lee Jones

The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard, NEW WEST
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The Independent Culture

At her best, Rickie Lee Jones creates moving commentaries on modern life, peopled by characters who seem as though they could stroll right out of the speakers and into your life. But this, sadly, is not Rickie at her best. Invited to contribute to a project based around Lee Cantelon's book The Words, she improvised the opening track "Nobody Knows My Name", and became so enthused that the project changed direction and became this album of pieces re-casting Christ's message for the modern world. "How do you pray in a world like this?" she asks in "Where I Like it Best", "it feels so cold and meaningless." But the semi-improvised arrangements of tracks such as "Lamp of the Body", "Falling Up" and "Road to Emmaus" fail to bring much meaning to their subjects, even when emulating the bristly manner of Tom Waits, as on the stealthy "Tried to Be a Man". As for the angelic Elvis and Janis Joplin riding the "Elvis Cadillac" around the afterlife, it's just an amusing idea torpedoed by lack of care. There's simply not enough contemplation, which is surely the kernel of religious belief.

DOWNLOAD THIS: "Tried to Be a Man", "Where I Like it Best"