Rickie Lee Jones: The Devil You Know

Rickie Lee Jones
The Devil You Know
(Concord)
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5 stars

Zzzzz…. sorry, just fell asleep for a minute or 40 listening to Rickie Lee Jones’ new set of cover songs. There’s nothing wrong with the concept and Jones has previously excelled at interpreting other’s work, from 1983’s Girl at her Volcano EP to two earlier discs dedicated to her voicings of classic pop, jazz and soul. But this one, produced by Ben Harper, is a stripped down snoozefest where Jones sounds like she just woke up with a hangover and decided to mumble songs from the Stones, Rod Stewart, Donovan, Robbie Robertson and Neil Young catalogs. That would be fine if she wanted to give them away as free downloads with the purchase of an album she spent some time and energy creating. But to charge full price for these lazy, barely intelligible ramblings is an insult to her fan base and hardly what she needs to revive her career. If you love these tunes in their original form, most, like a drowsy “Sympathy for the Devil,” will be barely recognizable as Jones slurs and mutters her way through them, slowing many down to an interminable crawl. What Ben Harper had to do with this is unclear, but other than a smoldering “St. James Infirmary,” for an artist of Jones’ talent and caliber, this is a major disappointment.

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