With the swampy, slithering sounds of acoustic guitars, mandolin, cello and other stringed instruments weaving around a voice that’s both sultry and childlike, Rickie Lee Jones takes us back into her interior landscape on her seventh album, “Traffic From Paradise” (Geffen).
Whereas 1991’s “Pop Pop” was a detour into pop, rock and jazz standards, only the acoustic guitar base remains under this new collection of self-penned songs.
Again, the underlying pain of Jones’ past influenced the shape of this collection. “‘Traffic From Paradise’ was a line in a short story about having an abortion, my first, when I was 18,” she said from her home in Ojai, where she has lived for the last six years.
“At the end of the story, the person was sitting in the lobby under all this falling traffic from paradise. It kind of set the tone for a lot of writing that came after — falling angels. I was a little concerned with the word ‘paradise,’ because it’s come up a lot on some other fairly famous records. But I just couldn’t leave it now.”
One can hear echoes of Bob Dylan, whose “Bringing It All Back Home” album was on Jones’ sound system a lot during conception of the new album.
And the influence of ace guitarist and collaborator Leo Kottke is everywhere. Kottke, Jones said, “had a lot of influence on me wanting to write at all — good, simple songs. Then when we played a few gigs together with a bass player, it was just perfect, that guitar feeling thing again.”
There is one seductive cover tune, David Bowie’s durable riff “Rebel Rebel,” which Jones says was conceived as a bridge between the Indian-flavored “Tigers” and the churning, syncopated New Orleans beat of “Jolie Jolie.””It’s one of those songs that make me stand up and dance whenever I hear it,” she said of “Rebel Rebel.””I always wanted to sing it. It’s hard to dare to redo something that’s been done perfectly already, but it’s a great song and it’s alright to do it.”