Rickie Lee Jones

The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard


Hmmm, Rickie Lee Jones, the goddess of beatnik cool as preacher? Inspired by Lee Cantelon’s book, The Words, a modern rendering of the words of Christ, she decided to apply her unique vocal and rhythm sensibilities to this collection of musings on the nature of people and their relationship with a higher power. The result is a challenging listen both in terms of the music and the lyrics. Gone for the most part is the beat driven syncopation of her biggest hits. Replacing it is everything from guitar driven folk, Falling Up and Circle in the Sand, to simple ballads, Seventh Day, to spooky acoustic instrumentals, Road To Emmaus, to rock driven numbers, Tried to Be a Man which features a sinister industrial beat and wracked out guitar on the break as a backdrop to Jones’ whispered vocals. Elsewhere, the tracks take on an ethereal feel not far removed from the Cowboy Junkies. While Jones is in generally good vocal form the spare Lamp of the Body and the other worldly but ultimately grating Donkey Ride are more spoken than sung and can be a bit of a painful listen. On the lyric front her stream of consciousness ramblings take on everything from first party accounts of how Christ felt walking in anonymity, Nobody Knows My Name, to how religion is best found outside the mega churches, Where I Like It Best. On the lighter side is Elvis Cadillac where Jones imagines rock luminaries such as Janis Joplin working the corner bars in Heaven. Overall, a mixed bag that some will find to be brilliant while others will move quickly for the eject button. Smitty

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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