Balm in Gilead

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Captain Beefheart was known to playfully admonish fans shouting out requests at his shows by saying, "You know I'm gonna do exactly what I want." No one has documented Rickie Lee Jones saying the same thing, but in the course of a recording career that's just entered its fourth decade, she's made it clear that she shares the same philosophy, and she's bravely followed her muse wherever it chooses to go, rather than rehashing the sound and style of Rickie Lee Jones and Pirates, the acclaimed early recordings which made her a star. Jones certainly hasn't lost her love for the blues and jazz flavors that dominated her best-known work, but on 2009's Balm in Gilead the title is ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Captain Beefheart was known to playfully admonish fans shouting out requests at his shows by saying, "You know I'm gonna do exactly what I want." No one has documented Rickie Lee Jones saying the same thing, but in the course of a recording career that's just entered its fourth decade, she's made it clear that she shares the same philosophy, and she's bravely followed her muse wherever it chooses to go, rather than rehashing the sound and style of Rickie Lee Jones and Pirates, the acclaimed early recordings which made her a star. Jones certainly hasn't lost her love for the blues and jazz flavors that dominated her best-known work, but on 2009's Balm in Gilead the title is drawn from a traditional spiritual, there's significantly less flash and swagger in her music; instead, these performances speak of an intimacy and warmth that befits the lyrics, which concern themselves with love, family, friendship, and the stuff that makes up everyday lives something of a switch after the broadsides of The Evening of My Best Day and the spiritual mysteries of The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard. Jones duets with Vic Chesnutt on two numbers, the country-influenced weeper "Remember Me" and a spectral gospel variant, "His Jeweled Floor" which also features Victoria Williams, and these two gloriously idiosyncratic talents bring out the best in one another, discovering a compelling mystery in their rural inflections that's an ideal match for the material. Ben Harper also lends his talents to this album, and his duet with Jones, "Old Enough," is a blues-infused tale of a busted romance that has a bit of the sass of "Chuck E.'s in Love," but half a lifetime's added depth and subtle detail. Jones opens the set with "Wild Girl," a song written for her daughter, and it's one of the most heartfelt and simply affecting moments on this album, along with "The Moon Is Made of Gold," a sweetly swinging lullaby that was written by her father when she was just a girl. And if songs like "Bonfires," "Eucalyptus Trail," "The Gospel of Carlos, Norman and Smith," and "Bayless St." don't lend themselves to simple categorization, they're all quietly beautiful and filled with a gentle passion that never sounds anything less than fearlessly honest. Rickie Lee Jones sounds less like a Hipster Chick and more like an Earth Mother whose experience has brought her plenty of wisdom on Balm in Gilead, and that's clearly just the way she wants it; Jones' faith in her own creative judgment is well-founded, and this is a work whose modest scale belies its emotional strength.
Los Angeles Times
Jones arrives at acceptance, if not always approval, of the complexities of life as an adult (on Balm in Gilead). But by the closing track, "Bayless St.," a reverie clothed in old-timey dobro, mandolin and slide guitar, she has found the peace in acceptance -- the spiritual balm for which the biblical land of Gilead was famous. 1/2
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/3/2009
  • Label: Fantasy
  • UPC: 888072317604
  • Catalog Number: 31760
  • Sales rank: 46,569

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Wild Girl (4:46)
  2. 2 Old Enough - Ben Harper (4:21)
  3. 3 Remember Me - Vic Chesnutt (2:44)
  4. 4 The Moon is Made of Gold (3:00)
  5. 5 His Jeweled Floor - Vic Chesnutt (6:32)
  6. 6 Eucalyptus Trail (3:58)
  7. 7 The Blue Ghazel (4:51)
  8. 8 The Gospel of Carlos, Norman and Smith - Christopher Joyner (4:19)
  9. 9 Bonfires (4:15)
  10. 10 Bayless St. (4:05)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Rickie Lee Jones Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Drums, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Electric Piano, Finger Snapping
Alison Krauss Violin
John Doan Harp Guitar
Victoria Williams Vocals
Vic Chesnutt Vocals
Jon Brion Bass, Guitar, Guitar (Baritone)
Bill Frisell Guitar
Danny Frankel Percussion, Tambourine
Ben Harper Vocals, Slide Guitar
David Kalish Organ, Bass, Dobro, Guitar, Piano, Hammond B3
Reggie McBride Bass
Tony Scherr Bass
Sebastian Steinberg Bass, Upright Bass
Arnold McCuller Background Vocals
Kenny Wollesen Drums
Craig Eastman Mandolin, Violin
Brian Swartz Trumpet
Christopher Joyner Electric Piano, Vocals
Grey DeLisle Autoharp
Paulie Cerra Saxophone
Charlie Paxson Drums
Joel Guzman Organ, Accordion
Technical Credits
Rickie Lee Jones Composer, Lyricist, Producer
David Kalish Composer, Producer, Engineer
John Keane Engineer
Mike Poole Engineer
Sheldon Gomberg Producer, Engineer
Jason Wormer Engineer
Jeff Halbert Engineer
Chris Testa Engineer
Jesse Honig Engineer
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