RICKIE LEE JONES ‘The Other Side of Desire’ CD

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Times could hardly be tougher for commercially overlooked types like Rickie Lee Jones, who funded this album through a PledgeMusic campaign and by selling off old stagewear. It ends a 10-year writing drought: finally struck by the urge to make new music after three LPs of covers and re-recordings, she’s looked to her newly adopted home, New Orleans, for inspiration. The city has got under her skin in subtle ways, however, and it takes digging to discern them. There are few overt homages – the raucous piano-based R&B of J’ai Connais Pas and the bayou-pop of Haunted are about it. The real fruits of that 10-year break are reserved for songs in which the city’s bohemianism and spirituality mesh with hers – and there are some real delights among them. There’s a sweet paean to her dog (Juliette), a pithy warning against forgetting the lessons of previous relationships (Haunted) and a finale in which wheezing sousaphone and mad giggles stay just the right side of zaniness.