Music Monday Review: Rickie Lee Jones’ Balm in Gilead

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Rickie Lee Jones
Balm in Gilead
Fantasy Records

It took a couple spins of Rickie Lee Jonesnew album to make me a fan. There’s nothing groundbreaking or overtly powerful about Balm in Gilead, but much like Jones’ weathered voice, its unassuming grit snuck up on me.

For one thing, the album moves much more slowly than I was accustomed to. But while it initially felt foreign, the record eventually felt refreshing—as if it were recorded on a back porch rather than a slick studio.

This authenticity is also evident in Jones’ ability to move through genres without feeling forced. While she seems most at home with bluesy romps such as “Old Enough” and “Blue Ghazel,” her smoky voice also lends itself nicely to the countrified “Remember Me” and sultry “The Moon Is Made of Gold.” Her lyrics, too, feel more sincere than cunning: It’s a dark night to feed a stranger, when I don’t have enough to feed myself, she sings affectingly on “The Gospel of Carlos, Norman and Smith.”

It’s these touches that ultimately make this new album intimate and real, a welcome respite from an overwrought music universe. By the time Jones croons You hurt me bad this time on one of the last and best tracks, “Bonfires,” she feels like an old, confiding friend—plaintive and genuinely heartbreaking.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate