Rickie Lee Jones – Balm In Gilead

January 01, 1970





It hardly seems imaginable that it’s been 30 years since
Rickie Lee Jones made her bow via her breakthrough hit, “Chuck E.’s In Love,”
and was subsequently accorded a Grammy as Best New Artist for her efforts.  In the three decades since, Jones’ commercial
stock has ebbed and peaked, but her sassy, soulful style has imbued her with a
respectable reputation and ongoing admiration. Both a barfly and ingénue, she’s
built her stock in trade by crooning twilight ballads with a knowing air of
cool and sophistication, even while showing she’s unafraid of taking sharp
turns at practically every opportunity. 


Jones’ new album, the delightfully disarming Balm In Gilead, suggests she’s still at
the top of her game, vamping through a varied but engaging collection of songs
that take her from shadowy chanteuse to pop pundit adept at blending a swoon
with a sway. Several of its tracks were written years, and even decades,
before, and given the time she’s had to polish them off may help explain why
the album ranks as her best in years. The smoky barroom vibe of “Old Enough,”
“The Moon is Made of Gold” and “Eucalyptus Trail” find her on familiar ground,
but her country croon on “Remember Me” and the ambient drone she purveys with
the beautiful “His Jeweled Floor” help affirm her desire for a more accessible
sound. Add to that an ample quotient of beguiling ballads – “Bonfire,” “Wild
Girl” and “A House on Bayless Street,” among them – and indeed, Balm In Gilead becomes a soothing salve
for these afflicted times.


 Standout Tracks: “His Jeweled Floor,” “Remember Me,” “”Bonfires”




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