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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Balm in Gilead

Fantasy 0888072317604



1. Wild Girl
2. Old Enough
3. Remember Me
4. The Moon is Made of Gold
5. His Jeweled Floor
6. Eucalyptus Trail
7. The Blue Ghazel
8. The Gospel of Carlos, Norman and Smith
9. Bonfires
10. Bayless St.

Collective personnel
Rickie Lee Jones - Vocals, guitars, piano, keyboard, banjo, bowed bass, percussion, drums, finger snaps
Bill Frisell - Guitar
David Kalish - Bass, guitars, piano, dobro, Hammond B-3
Joel Guzman - Accordion, organ
Jon Brion - Guitar, baritone guitar, bass, harmonics
Kenny Wollesen - Drums
Patrick Maguire - Octave guitar
Reggie McBride - Bass
Alison Krauss - Violin
Arnold McCuller - Backing vocals
Ben Harper - Slide guitar, vocals
Brian Swartz - Trumpet
Charlie Paxson - Drums
Chris Joyner - Electric piano, vocals
Craig Eastman - Violin, mandolin
Ed Maxwell - Bass
Grey DeLisle - Autoharp
John Doan - Harp guitar
John Reynolds - Lead guitar, whistler
Paulie Cerra - Sax
Pete Thomas - Drums
Sebastian Steinberg - Bass
Tom Evans - Sax, flute
Tony Scherr - Bass
Vic Chesnutt - Vocals
Victoria Williams - Vocals


Rickie Lee Jones might be regarded as a classic example of a "one-hit wonder". It is 30 years since she debuted with the hit record Chuck E's in Love, an off-the-wall song which included elements of jazz, the blues and folk music. That song might have qualified her as a jazz singer, except that her subsequent work has often veered away strongly from jazz. That is certainly true of this album, which might be labelled "File under folk", although Remember Me is more like a country song from Nashville - a lazy waltz (complete with country fiddle) in which Rickie's voice is reminiscent of Dolly Parton.

There are still hints of jazz in such tracks as The Moon is Made of Gold (actually written by Rickie's father), which sounds like Madeleine Peyroux imitating Billie Holiday. On the other hand, The Blue Ghazel is an instrumental with a heavy thudding rock beat, a Hammond organ groaning bluesily and a saxophone yelping in pain.

While Chuck E's in Love swung along infectiously, most of the songs here are slow without much swing. Rickie's little-girl voice doesn't always make the lyrics clear, so you may have to resort to reading them on the inner sleeve, except that they are printed there unclearly too. At any rate, the words are as enigmatic as the lyrics of Joni Mitchell - folkily poetic, you might say (or you might say, opaque). The pleasant melodies and the lilt in Rickie's voice make up for this but the album is predominantly low-key and often rather mournful. If you hoped that Rickie Lee Jones's first hit launched a new jazz singer, that now seems to be a hope that hasn't been realised.

Tony Augarde

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