mon 04/03/2024

Album: Rickie Lee Jones - Pieces of Treasure | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Rickie Lee Jones - Pieces of Treasure

Album: Rickie Lee Jones - Pieces of Treasure

Singing the standards into sultry new ways of being

Reuniting with Russ Titelman, the producer of her eponymous 1979 debut and its follow-up 1981’s Pirates, Rickie Lee Jones approaches the great American songbook as if she was reuniting with an old flame, the thrill of it smouldering and concentrating itself in 10 elegant, soulful jazz-blues performances. 

These Pieces of Treasure open with the shimmering vibes of “Just in Time”, takes in a very different realisation of “Nature Boy”, a languid version of “One for My Baby” that burns the midnight oil, and closes up shop with a walk on “The Sunny Side of the Street” and “It’s All in the Game”, the only ever No. 1 hit written by a US vice president.

Opening track “Just In Time” is also its lead single, and features a fine turn from Mike Mainieri on vibraphone, with subtle backing from a quartet of pianist Rob Mounsey, guitarist Russell Malone, bassist David Wong and drummer Mark McLean. These songs have atmospheres – mistily intimate, sultry and slow, taking their time and unwrapping themselves verse by verse. “I’m flirting with the microphone, sexy in a kind of "grown-ups in the 1960s’ way, like Dean Martin might have been with his sweetheart,” says Rickie Lee Jones of these performances at the mic. “I just slipped in there and started to sing. So, no one is thinking too much. And that’s the way to sneak up on a performance.”

On “There Will Never Be Another You” she sneaks right in to the heart of it, her low, mature vocal one sensual wisdom and experience, the song a chorus that slows slow like molasses, Malone’s guitar adding a studied, steady elegance, while “Nature Boy” is reawakened by a mellifluous oud-like guitar, quarter-tone vocal phrases, a gypsy cry of lament, before dripping gently and steadily into a guitar, piano and voice retelling of those famous lines by the pioneer of all west coast hippies, William Pester: “The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return”.

“This album is as much about being human, the view of surviving – which means aging, and loving relentlessly – as it is about anything,” she has said, and you can hear the flow of her own life experience flowing through these songs, through her vocals and the performances Russ Titelman captures so well. Reuniting with Titelman over these songs, she’s reaching back into the roots of her music, and extracting from it a warm and intimate set that feels like it wants to put its arms round you and take it from there.

@CummingTim

These songs have atmospheres – mistily intimate, sultry and slow

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Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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