We can thank George W. Bush for helping Rickie Lee Jones get her career back on track.
The Evening of My Best Day, Jones' first album of original material since 1997's experimental trip-hop oddity Ghostyhead, is easily her strongest release since her celebrated self-titled debut in 1979. Back then, Jones was heralded as the next Joni Mitchell, but her career over the past 20 years has largely been one of unfulfilled potential. After Ghostyhead, she took a six-year break from songwriting; then along came George II.
Angry with Bush and his policies, she picked up her pen and directed her fury at the president on the disc's opener, "Ugly Man." In the same slurred drawl that marked her early work, Jones sings: "He'll look at you and tell you lies." Her venomous words go down easy, wrapped in a gorgeous melody and hummable chorus. On the bouncy, gospel-tinged "Tell Somebody (Repeal the Patriot Act)," Jones feels obligated to "tell somebody what's happening in the U.S.A." and in "Little Mysteries" she digs into the 2000 presidential election.
The Evening of My Best Day is more than just a protest album. Working with producer David Kalish and a host of guest musicians, Jones has created a compelling recording that reflects myriad emotions and musical styles. The Evening of My Best Day is the work of an artist with a newfound focus.
The Hartford Courant is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.