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CD: Rickie Lee Jones - The Other Side of Desire | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Rickie Lee Jones - The Other Side of Desire

CD: Rickie Lee Jones - The Other Side of Desire

The singer-songwriter is no longer blocked, apart from in her sinuses

Homespun: Rickie Lee Jones's 'The Other Side of Desire'

Since her gorgeous self-titled debut album in 1979, Rickie Lee Jones has been all round the houses. Her music has plotted a sinuous path through jazz, blues, pop, soul and straight up-and-down rock. Her fortunes have soared and dipped, and the lovers apostrophised in the songs have come and gone, starting with Tom Waits, subject of “We Belong Together”. Last year she sailed past her 60th birthday without having released any new material since her 50th.

The Other Side of Desire comes out on a record label of the same name, and was crowd-funded.

It wouldn’t be a Rickie Lee Jones album if it didn’t pack a surprise. One surprise is that an album nominally hymning New Orleans (Blanche Dubois’s streetcar is namechecked in the title) doesn’t always sound much like a bayou. “Valtz de Mon Pere” is a hokey old country ballad. “Infinity” is an introverted meditation on solitude. It’s not just in its title that the mournful “Christmas In New Orleans” feels closest to home, while the creepy gothic closer “Finale (Spider in the Circus of the Falling Star)” features slippery New Orleanian brass.

There's another surprise and it isn’t that great. The gamine enchantress who sang “Chuck E’s in Love” seems to be suffering from a severe adenoidal blockage. It’s dimly evident on the opener, “Jimmy Choos”, starts to surface in the bluesy “J’ai Connais Pas”, and sounds horribly overt in the higher Jaggeresque crooning of “Blinded by the Hunt”. For the showpiece ballad “Feet on the Ground” she gets choral help from the boys. Instrumentally, producer John Porter has surrounded her voice with a diaphanous wall of acoustic sound, or simple synths in the jaunty “Haunted”. The homemade aesthetic is matched by often simple melodies. She hasn’t lost her ability to write outside the box, and the songs grow with further listening. But the voice alas is not what it was.

@JasperRees

Overleaf: watch the trailer to The Other Side of Desire

It wouldn’t be a Rickie Lee Jones album if it didn’t pack a surprise

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