Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Rickie Lee Jones - The Other Side of Desire, album review

Roll Up, Roll Up for a Circus of Voices

As another named character Jimmy Choo has his story narrated through the girlish and playful vocalese of a wonderful Rickie Lee, it is as if the many years since Chuck E and his love became known to us, nothing has changed; the country waltz of next track Valtz de Mon Pere reminds us, however, that Jones has moved location and now resides in New Orleans – so past and present coalesce in the familiar and new but inimitable sound of Rickie Lee Jones.

The Orleans connection is picked up in the blues of next track J’ai Connais Pas, Jones singing with apt sass; when she begins singing next Blinded by the Hunt it is in a soulfully affected falsetto that is wrapped in affecting vernacular tones and phrasings. Amazing. This exciting vocal journey is time-warped back to the past in next Infinity, more akin to the soft and atmospheric beauty of a song like Night Train, the ticking in the background setting a frantic pace beneath the actual meditative rhythm of the melody and lightly struck piano keys; similarly sixth track I Wasn’t Here which projects such a childlike sound [within orchestral strings] without sounding childish – the sweetest harmonies swelling the prettiness.

Eighth Haunted picks up the musical stride a little, neat staccato instrumentation leading into echoing guitar and more angelic harmonies, until a bluesy mood takes over midway through and eerie guitar rhythms empathise to the song’s title and the warning of the lyrics:

You better be careful
Or all the bluebirds will stop flying
You better be careful
Or all the stars will stop flying
You better be careful
Or all your dreams just stop dying
You better be careful
Or all your heart will stop stinging

Closer Finale: [A Spider in the Circus of the Falling Star] is itself a circus of voices performing in the centre of its lyrical poem, a trumpet calling behind the circling voices, a banjo and laughter - elements of music hall in its performance:

Don't be afraid little one
We can't always walk in the sun
I've come to show you another way
Weaving a home
From patterns of sound

We catch marvellous moments
Put them down, put them down
Ah don't I recall
All of us flying
On parachutes in fall
Into the wind
To all stars again
The first of us is always

The last of us
Is not afraid
To leave
All life is circling
And all circles leading
The circus is gone
Our kind too...
Eat me and
Live, child

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