“I’ve long had a thing about… well what is it about? Vanity? Success? Self-loathing? Self-appreciation? What is the deal? As I face the full theaters or the filled up clubs I notice, I take stock. I have to tell myself, it’s ok, really, no big deal, not even a question of ‘deserving’. It’s been hard for a long time. Now it’s not quite so hard. Don’t make a big deal of it.”
He’s a man of few words who prefers a simple approach. His debut EP, My Heart Beats On The Moon (REMusic Records, 2008), a collection of five songs, is now followed by yet another mini-album of only seven compositions. Once again, Dutch singer-songwriter Skinnie makes sure he is in the best of company, this time relying on two outstanding and seasoned musicians—guitarist Martijn van Agt (Anouk, Ilse DeLange, Sarah Bettens), and multi-instrumentalist/producer Michel van Schie (Candy Dulfer, Anouk, Soulvation)—who definitely elevate Skinnie’s songs onto a higher plane.
Skinnie’s reflective lyrics about love, loss, generosity, resignation, truth, dreams, desire and playful contemplation are woven into a setting of lush musical moods leaning towards pop, country, blues and jazz in an intelligent design. The subtle tones of van Agt’s pedal steel and slide guitar characterize a sense for detail and finesse that all three musicians have in common. The disc starts and ends with “Sailing,” in a single edit and album version. It’s a catchy tune, with a likewise attractive and perhaps recognizable imagery provided by lyrics about escaping reality for a while, until a neighbor at the door complains about the trash in the garden. Skinnie delivers his songs in a warm and genuine manner with his deep and sometimes husky voice.
The title track has a few surprises, and showcases van Agt’s skills on guitar with distinctive flavors and hints reminiscent of the sound that makes the music of Steely Dan appreciated in wider musical circles. It’s an approach and arrangement that also returns in “No Little Girl, No More.” “Can’t Cut You Loose” stands out; a beautiful sensitive ballad about accepting life and relationships the way they are, after questioning their values and virtues.
It’s a very pleasant album that, like its predecessor, asks for more. If there has to be critique, then it would serve to point out some flaws in the English lyrics. A few mistakes that can easily be forgiven, as these sailing and flying Dutchmen do understand the craft of musicianship to the max. Music, after all, is a universal language; a language that Skinnie and company know how to speak very well.
source: All About Jazz
If a musical career spans a period of thirty years, there’s bound to be ups and downs along the way. Rickie Lee Jones has always insisted on making her own choices, sometimes baffling her critics with yet another puzzle to work out. For her latest album “Balm in Gilead” The Duchess of Coolsville combines her multiple talents as an artist, songwriter and producer with a little help from musical friends like Jon Brion, Bill Frisell, Brian Swartz, Pete Thomas and Reggie McBride. Click here to continue reading at All About Jazz. If you’d like to hear samples and/or purchase the album, you can click here.
She suddenly appeared from the dark and the audience, not prepared for a quiet entrance, applauded surprised or not at all. Not everyone realized Rickie had entered the stage already. So she made a remark about it with a wry sense of humor and introduced herself again. “Here is Rickie Lee Jones,” while the audience cheered much louder and Rickie’s face lit up with a smile, in the center of a spotlight.
She sat behind the grand piano, the chords of Living It Up filled the room. Sal Bernardi and Rob Wasserman had joined RLJ on stage, awaiting their cues to step in. Most of the time she took the journey on her own, only allowing subtle input from her two musicians. And there was smoke and light effects. She liked the lights, but not the smoke. “It’s killing me, this smoke, it makes it hard for me to sing. If you don’t cut it, I’m gonna walk off stage,” she said with a clear warning to the guys who handled the effects.
And she got up alright. But didn’t walk off. Instead she smiled and said she’d try the guitar first and come back to the piano later on. The audience just held its breath. And as soon as Rickie started to play the guitar and sing, all was well again.
Remembering setlists and the order of the songs she played is not my thing, alas. There were no seats, so we all had to stand, the front row kind of leaned against the stage. Being that close, you just look at the performers, Rickie in particular, and follow her every move. Reel it all in.
Danny’s All Star Joint, Running From Mercy… songs from her new album Balm In Gilead… her voice still sounds the same after so many years, even the high notes have remained within her reach. Her technique and savvy as in how to use the microphone was just as interesting to watch, given the dynamics of her range and volume and the way she interprets her music.
There’s a huge difference in Rickie behind the piano and Rickie at the guitar. If she’s playing the piano, you can feel her strength and wide artistic palet as she plays the chords we’re all so familiar with, especially the songs we know from Pirates, her second album. If she’s at the guitar, she seems to tone down some and become more of a singer-songwriter, like one in the legion of many, albeit outstanding ones. Or maybe it’s just my own preference…
I bought Balm In Gilead at the show and even though I’d already listened to it via the player at spinner.com, the tracks have most definitely gained body now that I’ve seen her perform live. The magic of Rickie Lee Jones is still there. She still taps into my soul, feed it with the same kind of energy and thrill she did when I was barely 16…
(to be continued)