Listen Up: Wednesday, October 29, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Rickie Lee Jones

The Evening of My Best Day (V2 Records)

By Jimmy Fowler

Rickie Lee Jones — 21st-century protest singer? The Evening of My Best Day, her first collection of original tunes in six years, is suffused with righteous anger over George Bush, The Patriot Act, and the death of senator Paul Wellstone — suggesting that Rickie has spent much of her songwriting hiatus watching CNN. One might be tempted to dismiss this as another grope toward reinvention à la 1997’s tedious trip-hop venture Ghostyhead. But working with Dave Kalish, who collaborated with her on Pirates (1999), Jones has conjured melodies, arrangements, and some subtle instrumental virtuosity to rival her largely ignored classic Traffic From Paradise. All that political indignation has seemingly revived Jones’ breathy, signature swagger. Songs like the undeniably catchy “Tell Somebody (Repeal the Patriot Act)” and “Ugly Man,” an indictment of Dubya that exhorts us to “take the country back,” are initially conspicuous due to their bold if simplistic lyrical content. But the genuine beauties soon emerge out of the propaganda, sanctified by the baby-doll weariness of Jones’ voice. “A Second Chance” is a sly stroll through a crime-ridden neighborhood where it’s “Summertime, and everything is cool / In the halfway house for sex offenders by the school.” The soulful and sinister “Little Mysteries” indulges in some oblique leftist conspiracy theorizing, peppered with Jones’ wah-wah guitar flourishes. The title track is one of the prettiest lullabies she’s ever written — comfort for a little girl after her mother’s death. Rickie’s overall musical vision for this album — the delicacy with which she introduces flirtations with banjo, flute, trumpet, bongos, and piano when you least expect them — distinguishes The Evening of My Best Day from some of its own naïve topical inspirations.


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