Rickie Lee Jones, Still Predictably Unpredictable, Comes to the Parker Playhouse

Rickie Lee Jones has always made a point not to repeat herself. While commercial success came quickly thanks to her eponymous debut; its attendant hit single, "Chuck E's in Love"; and Pirates, her highly praised sophomore set, the tangled trajectory she pursued thereafter gave way to critical drubbing and the scorn of those who found themselves unable to effectively pigeonhole her sound.

“I’ve have this habit of when I go in a certain direction, I make a sudden left turn,” Jones surmises. “I can’t tell you why, but I refuse to fall into any particular genre. I just hate people deciding about something before they even hear it.”

Jones learned the hard way that the public and the critics too, of course — can be fickle.

“You can have a big success at first and then they throw you away,” she insists. “I paved my own road, (but) the thing that hurt my feelings back then was that I was hungry for some praise after the success of my debut. When it came to my more experimental work, I found a lot of other people getting attention for doing the same thing I was. They never mentioned Rickie Lee Jones! It was a very dark time for my ego and my spirit. Now it does suddenly feel better. It feels like we’re painting the path for the future. It seems to have altered the way the path is viewed, and maybe even the path itself. I feel like some redemption is taking place.”

Much of that optimism stems from the reaction she's garnered for her new album, The Other Side of Desire. With it, Jones returns to the more accessible sound that characterized her earliest outings. It's her first new album of original material in a decade, and in summing up the observations and experience gained over the course of her 35-year career, it does so with a renewed sense of melody, as well as weary reflection born of both acceptance and desire.

These days, Jones' goals are simple and direct.

"I'd like to have some money in the bank," she says. "I'd like to have some recognition. But you have to just live for the hour. You get up in the morning and go to bed at night, and tomorrow you do have to do it all over again. It sounds like a cliché, but you have to be in the here and now and be grateful for your life."

It’s clear from conversation that Jones is indeed grateful, and that the new album has brought a particular peace she hasn’t experienced in awhile.

“It’s made me realize its fine to not leave the palette I’m working with,” she reflects. “I don’t have to put a Blue Cheer song on this collection. (laughs) I can let it be what it is. So for me, it shows a certain contentment for who I am and a confidence I haven’t had in a while."

Rickie Lee Jones, 8 p.m. Tuesday, August 18 at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale. 954-462-0222, Tickets cost $37.50 to $47.50 via
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Lee Zimmerman