Album: Rickie Lee Jones, Balm in Gilead (Fantasy)

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The Independent Culture

I worried that Rickie Lee Jones's 13th album might involve an extension of the overtly Christian ruminations of 2007's unsatisfying The Sermon On Exposition Boulevard; but it seems employed here in a more general metaphorical sense, of music as spiritual medicine. That's certainly the impression given by the reflective blues-jazz piece "Blue Ghazel", whose wordless vocal hums and growls sound like someone talking in tongues over "It's A Man's Man's Man's World"; and by "His Jeweled Floor", whose reverberant drone is ultimately more moving than the vocals which supplant it. But, elsewhere, Jones wanders stylistically from the wistful country music of "Remember Me?" and Paul Simon-esque poignancy of "Bonfires", to the Laura Nyro-style blue-eyed soul of "Old Enough", a duet with Ben Harper. She hasn't lost her gift for the telling line, as when reassuring her daughter in "Wild Girl" that "the thing that makes you beautiful doesn't come out of a jar"; but surprisingly, the standout track, "The Moon is Made of Gold", turns out to have been written long ago by her father. A jazzy soon-to-be standard similar in mood and tone to "Midnight at the Oasis", it features whistling and mouth-trumpet in the manner of Leon Redbone, and a deliciously sweet guitar solo by Bill Frisell.

Download this The Moon is Made of Gold; Wild Girl; Old Enough; Blue Ghazel