Rickie Lee Jones
The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard
Even being extremely lenient, it would be hard to claim that Rickie Lee Jones has done much that's essential since Flying Cowboys in 1989 (and possibly even her 1979 self-titled debut). However, The Sermon is a remarkable piece of work. In 2005, Jones was invited to take part in her friend Lee Cantelon's music version of his book The Words, a modern re-working of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jones instead chose to improvise a vocal and lyric, and here we are.
Clearly enjoying the framework around which to improvise, Jones here adopts a raw, direct sound and a confessional style, over some wonderfully hypnotic melodies. It's not perfect - the material seems too much for her on songs such as Lamp Of the Body and Donkey Ride, but It Hurts, Falling Up and 7th Day more than make up. Circle in the Sand was recorded for the soundtrack to the film Friends With Money and is the poppiest she has been in a long time. The subject matter doesn't immediately suggest accessibility, but this is a very strong return to Flying Cowboys form.