Not since Billie Holiday
has there been a vocalist who so completely transforms a song into her own. On It's Like This
, eclectic folkie Rickie Lee Jones
envelops standards, showtunes, '70s soul, and even slick jazz-rock, interpreting them with her familiar childlike, breathy shouts. In a very similar vein as 1991's Pop Pop
pulls together a collection of diverse songs from throughout the 20th century and gives them a sparse, fragile spin, kind of like Diana Krall
and Björk sharing coffee at an all-night diner.
Produced by Bruce Brody
(who has also worked with Maria McKee
and Bette Midler
), this album is really a showcase for the dynamic vocalist -- her voice pitching and yawing like a sloop far out at sea. Several notable artists scatter themselves unobtrusively throughout the album like Joe Jackson
, Ben Folds
, John Pizzarelli
, and Taj Mahal
; each lend a subtle bassline or harmony vocal, cautiously not stepping on any of Jones
' delicate lines.
Her passionate, earthy version of Marvin Gaye
's "blaxploitation" hit "Trouble Man" is as soulful as her cover of the Beatles
' "For No One" is pleading, each reaching out to the listener like a whisper from an inch away. Jones
' unmistakable style is unlike anyone else's, and that fact alone will turn away some potential listeners; however, for fans of gentle jazz-pop, It's Like This
is an intimate, dreamy wander through the songbooks of the last century.