Review: Rickie Lee Jones’ Retro Romance

Rickie Lee Jones/Pieces of Treasure/BMG
Four out of Five Stars

Videos by American Songwriter

Credit Rickie Lee Jones for successfully making the transition from Bohemian hipster to a modern-day chanteuse. While Pieces of Treasure may not be Jones’ first attempt at singing the standards—her 1988 collaboration with Rob Wasserman, Autumn Leaves, can claim that distinction—the new album does define her as an artist of marked maturity that’s well deserving of mainstream appeal. The song selection alone makes that apparent; a series of standards, it includes some of the most beloved melodies of the past 60 and 70 years, among them, such timeless classics as “Just In Time,” “There Will Never Be Another You,” “One For My Baby, “September Song,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street.”

Happily then, Jones is well up to the task of sharing these songs with a new generation. She hews to the original arrangements, staying true to their inherent embrace and offering the tender treatments the material so decidedly deserves. Granted, there may be some that miss the brash persona of the former Rickie Lee, but given these reverent readings, it’s hard to fault her sentiment and sincerity. Jones’ respect for the material is obvious given the tender tones of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “Just In Time,” “September Song,” and “There Will Be Another You,” a languid approach that works remarkably well. The shimmering arrangements and clarity of her vocals ensure the appropriate attachment, and even when she delves into a hint of an Eastern motif during the lead-up to “Nature Boy,” there’s no denying her affinity for her sources. Her delivery ensures a calming caress that’s as easy and breezy as the songs otherwise imply.

[RELATED: Rickie Lee Jones Offers Emotive, Restorative ‘Pieces of Treasure’ ]

Given her status as a vintage artist of considerable renown, Pieces of Treasure isn’t a reinvention in the strictest sense, but rather an absolute affirmation of revered ranking. It’s a route any number of other artists of her generation have taken, and yet it’s a mark of contemporary credence as well. In Jones’ hands, these Pieces of Treasure receive the value they truly deserve.

Photo by Astor Morgan / Kid Logic Media

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