Picks and Pans Review: The Magazine
Rickie Lee Jones
Their musical styles are vastly different, but Jones shares with Bruce Springsteen a grimly determined strain of romanticism that's strong enough to support a ton or two of sorrow and disappointment. This album, deep and fascinating in its variety of lyrics and melodies, is Jones' first since 1981. (Her 1983 EP, Girl at Her Volcano, consisting of cover versions of old jazz and rock standards, tided everyone over nicely.) The Magazine has the tone of a concept LP about a gutsy, witty woman whose stubborn pursuit of love takes various forms. Among other things, there's rock (Runaround), a light Caribbean beat (It Must Be Love) and even some hints of Spain and recitative (Rorschachs). Jones' lyrics are the closest thing to blank verse in pop music. In Deep Space she writes, "Where the Lord's face is an all-night cafe/ There's a woman who will wait on what you have to say/ And your dreams are like marbles in the pocket of a little boy/ And they whisper when you hold them like a beautiful girl." Sometimes there's a little too much blank and not enough verse, as in Gravity: "We walk in easy snakes through the roulette rattling of the ethyl/ And now the arson smell of moon/ Polishes a newsstand." Jones' diction is still mush-mouthed—some people could articulate better while gulping oatmeal—which is especially troubling because her lyrics are so important. This, though, is one of those rare pop music enterprises where a listener is rewarded for a little extra work; it is a unique record. (Warner Bros.)
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