Rickie Lee Jones. At SOhO, Monday, December 18.

Reviewed by Brett Leigh Dicks

Rickie Lee Jones knows a thing or two about the road. For almost
30 years, the musical veteran has been soulfully touring life’s
highways and byways and encapsulating it all in song. Sliding
behind the SOhO piano on Monday night, the Dutchess of Coolsville
caressed and perplexed her way through an enchanting offering that
explored these experiences. Jones delivered scintillating
renditions of songs that spanned her career, opening with “On
Saturday Afternoons in 1963,” then moving to “Flying Cowboys,”
“Living It Up,” and “Coolsville.” Oddly — and perhaps a testament
to Jones’s versatility — a member of the audience eagerly requested
the evening’s opening song not long after she actually performed

Soon after, Jones was joined onstage by her band and from that
point forward, left the piano behind. As a result, the intimate
smokiness of the performance was replaced by the driving dynamics
of an ensemble. But such was the ease of her progression and Jones
hardly skipped a beat. For, just as the hauntingly beautiful
“Coolsville” had her passionately crying out from behind the
keyboard, “Nobody Knows My Name” saw Jones center stage, hunched
over the microphone, dispelling every trace of sentiment from the

As the evening progressed, Jones toured us through a selection
of songs from her forthcoming album, The Sermon on Exposition
Boulevard, a musical exploration of faith and redemption. Among the
swirl of atmospheric guitars in “Where I Like It Best,” she threw
forth both her arms as she pleaded its verses. “Falling Up” was a
bristling pop gem, while the grungy guitars of “It Hurts” were all
rock ’n’ roll. In “The Lamp of the Body,” vocals, guitars, and
electronics were contorted into the musically surreal, but reality
defiantly returned with “Last Chance Texaco.”

Within her classic road-weary tale, Jones presented a heart as
sullied and stained as the floors of the facility in which she
performed. But despite such tribulations, Jones has a heart and
soul that clearly still roams free.


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