Balm In Gilead

Balm In Gilead

Rickie Lee Jones’ recording career began with the big splash of the unexpected hit “Chuck E.’s In Love,” and over the years the jazz-pop hipster has given way to a songwriter who’s turned some unusual corners. 2009’s Balm In Gilead reflects a folkier, at times more solemn and ambient Jones. “Wild Girl” is an even-paced ballad that gently explodes in a torrent of words. (Jones wrote it for her daughter as she turned 21, undoubtedly expecting the apple to fall near the tree). Ben Harper duets for the blues-laced, experience-laden “Old Enough.” Vic Chesnutt and Alison Krauss (on violin) join Jones for the country-inflected “Remember Me.” “His Jeweled Floor,” with guests Chesnutt and Victoria Williams, calls from another sonic station with a sweet ache in its slow gait. The gentle sprinkle of piano notes on “Eucalyptus Trail” shadow Jones’ elusive poetry, and a creeping nightclub organ follows the R&B- based instrumental “The Blue Ghazel.” “Bayless St.” ends things with dobro, mandolin and slide guitar, taking us further back in time before Jones found her current aches and cares.

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