The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard

The Cafe is still developing its pop music chops. So we are four months late in noticing Rickie Lee Jones’ spooky, fascinating new album The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard. The songs on the disc are informed by The Words, a modern re-working of the gospels by Jones’ friend Lee Cantelon.

Writes Leah Greenblatt of EW: “The onetime Tom Waits paramour and self-dubbed Duchess of Coolsville is definitely still cool, but she’s also with Christ — transferring the folk L.A. aesthetic of her 1970s prime onto a Bible-centric narrative. These tracks are the antithesis of church-camp sing-alongs, enriched by roadhouse rhythms and her distinctive whiskey-soaked voice.”

Reviewing a recent concert, Jonathan Perry of the Boston Globe wrote: “Musically speaking, “Sermon” is a noir-ish universe of spooky, swirling grooves cut with minimalist, diamond-hard riffs that recall the Velvet Underground, reined in by Jones’s street-poetry meditations and lamentations on faith, doubt, and the state of the world. It’s also the 52-year-old singer-songwriter’s best work in years, and she knows it.”

In her profile of Jones for The Telegraph, Helen Brown wrote: “Musically, it’s a desert-like mixture of percussive stones and blinding guitar sky, with her voice a hermit’s meditations.

And it takes a good devotee’s listening. Listen too quickly and you may be bored. I played the album six times before I found the wonder in its humanist grace. Since then it hasn’t been off my stereo.”

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