From her platinum-plus debut in 1979 through her newest project “The Other Side Of Desire” well over three decades later, Rickie Lee Jones has consistently juggled the worlds of rock, jazz, folk, blues and pop. Add in her poetic songwriting, rhythmic phrasing, plus a voice that’s just as capable as belting sky high as it is whispering with intimacy, and the Chicago native isn’t one to be put in a stylistic box.
In fact, the stripped down nature of the night gave ‘70s and ‘80s favorites “Satellites,” “The Last Chance Texaco,” “The Horses,” and “Chuck E’s In Love” a lot more room for Jones’ clever, quirky and contemplative lyrics to come into further focus.
Though she never reached the commercial heights of fellow troubadours Carly Simon or Emmylou Harris, her influence is readily apparent on several artists from the subsequent generation, including Jewel, Sheryl Crow and even the softer side of Cyndi Lauper. Those who sold out Chicago’s classy City Winery certainly didn’t need any convincing of the double Grammy winner’s merit, and throughout nearly two hours, she demonstrated those unique talents through the framework of simply her acoustic guitar and piano, plus percussion/vibraphone player Mike Dillon.
In fact, the stripped down nature of the night gave ‘70s and ‘80s favorites “Satellites,” “The Last Chance Texaco,” “The Horses,” and “Chuck E’s In Love” a lot more room for Jones’ clever, quirky and contemplative lyrics to come into further focus. The show’s bare bones structure also complimented newer tunes such as “Blinded By The Hunt” and “Valtz De Mon Pere (Lovers’ Waltz),” her first originals in about a decade that found further freshness under the influence of living and recording in New Orleans.
Outside of her own material, Jones expanded her vast reach with an unplugged and seated edition of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil,” volleying between singing and spoken word that barely resembled the original. Indeed, the 61-year-old regularly kept everyone on their toes right down to a seemingly on the fly set list, which was yet another example of her steadfast commitment to exploration and reinterpretation.
Upcoming concert highlights at City Winery include Delbert McClinton (Mar. 4); Edwin McCain (Mar. 5); “Labyrinth” film screening starring David Bowie (Mar. 9); Simon Kirke & the Empty Pockets (Mar. 10); Vivian Green (Mar. 11); Michael McDermott (Mar. 12); Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour 2016 (Mar. 13; Madeleine Peyroux Trio (Mar. 14-16); Shooter Jennings and Waymore’s Outlaws (Mar. 21); Joe Purdy (Mar. 22); Easter Sunday Gospel Brunch with Temika Moore (Mar. 27); Joe Pug and Langhorne Slim (Mar. 28-29) and Jesse Malin (Mar. 31). For additional details, visit CityWinery.com/Chicago.