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"SERMON ON EXPOSITION BOULEVARD"

::: Irish Release FEBRUARY 16, 2007 :::

On NEW WEST RECORDS (Essential / Pinnacle)

“FALLING UP” IS SET AS THE FIRST SINGLE

RICKIE LEE JONES will reemerge in February 2007 with her debut album for New West Records, THE SERMON ON EXPOSITION BOULEVARD—a work that’s soul-satisfying and sonically unique.

Heading down some mighty interesting roads and discovering new magical essences, RICKIE LEE sounds like she's going through a transformation throughout the album in a way that's reminiscent of Van Morrison's performances on his classic album Astral Weeks. There’s RICKIE’s spellbinding performance on the eight-plus free-flowing minutes of “I Was There,” the illuminating first single “Falling Up” and other highlights, including “Where I Like It Best,” “Gethsemane,” “Circle In The Sand,” “7th Day,” “Elvis Cadillac” and “Nobody Knows My Name.”

What will certainly be most striking to some fans about THE SERMON ON EXPOSITION BOULEVARD is that it rocks harder than any album the two-time Grammy Award winner has ever recorded. “Nobody Knows My Name,” the striking opening track, might best be described as “minimalist pure pop punk rock,” and the evocative, riff-‘n’-hook-filled, stream-of-consciousness rant titled “Falling Up” follows in a similar decidedly art-rock manner. What's ultimately just as fascinating as the remarkable music on the new album, however, is that all 13 songs are inspired by the real words and ideas of one Jesus Christ.

Essentially what RICKIE LEE JONES and her collaborators have done on THE SERMON ON EXPOSITION BOULEVARD is to put Christ's words into a modern-day context, portraying those words in a way that anyone can understand. Hence, “Elvis Cadillac”--which not only talks about cruising around Heaven in the King's most famous vehicle, but also mentions the late, great Janis Joplin. After all, if anyone in recent history can be considered a secular Jesus, it would have to be Mr. Presley, arguably one of the “Christs” walking among us for that generation.

The recording began in a painter's loft on an abandoned industrial street in mid-L.A. in the summer of '05. Lee Cantelon, who can best be described as a modern renaissance man, originally conceived the project as a lo-fi, low budget undertaking, a spoken word interpretation of “The Words,” his book of Christ's teachings. Cantelon had created beds of music with guitarist Peter Atanasoff (“The Velvet Underground was the name that seemed to come up most often,” recalls RICKIE LEE), and Cantelon's initial plan was to recruit friends and associates--running the gamut from punk icon Mike Watt to a homeless man he encountered every day to RICKIE LEE--to do the talking.

The project changed direction, though, when RICKIE LEE showed up to record her part. Instead of reciting the text, she stunned everyone in the studio by improvising an entire song to a track she had never heard. "Nobody Knows My Name” is that first recording. So began the inspired musical and textural improvisations that would become THE SERMON ON EXPOSITION BOULEVARD.

When circumstances put the recording on hold for half a year, the project seemed in danger of being abandoned. Ms. JONES hired producer Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, The Vines, Beck) to put the project back on track. Rob took RICKIE LEE and her crew to Hollywood’s legendary Sunset Sound. Peter and Lee kept the 'Sermon' focused by using the same musicians throughout the recording. The new sessions would also find RICKIE LEE contributing musical ideas--adding her own bass and guitar parts--as well as lyrical ones, including such latter tracks as “7th Day,” “Tried To Be A Man,” “I Was There,” and “Elvis Cadillac.” Within six weeks the 'words' project was completed, and THE SERMON ON EXPOSITION BLVD was born. Besides the aforementioned songs, the album includes “It Hurts,” “Where I Like It Best,“ “Donkey Ride,” “Road To Emmaus,” “Lamp Of The Body” and “Circle In the Sand” (originally written for the recent indie film Friends With Money).

“If you just have faith and try to believe and don't control it, it will unfold and reveal itself to you,” says RICKIE LEE, who also fashioned the arresting multi-media collage on the album’s cover. “In life, that's true--but it's especially true in art. If you don't try to control it, you'll find that you've delivered something way beyond what you could've mapped out.” She elaborates: “I love what I was able to do with it, putting myself in the skin of Christ and all the characters walking with him on the sand--in my mind, that's what I was doing. It's still hard for me, two thousand years later, to come to that stuff and those ideas and read them. But what you get out of it is how little there actually is--there were very few words. And that Jesus was a rabbi, a teacher you can go to for wisdom. And it seems that the real story of Jesus is lived over and over again in each generation but no one ever recognizes the Christ that walks among us.”

“It would be great if you could dip your hands into any spiritual path and find what's actually there,” she notes.“ People today can't even hear the name Jesus without tensing up because they don't want to be associated with the TV evangelists and that lot. I just wanted to level the playing field a bit.”

A two-disc DELUXE EDITION of THE SERMON ON EXPOSITION BOULEVARD will also be available with a 24-page booklet and six-panel Digipak, featuring additional art and photography from the recording sessions. The package will include an SACD with higher resolution Stereo and 5.1 Surround mixes of the album and a DVD with over a dozen short film "chapters” documenting the recording sessions, RICKIE LEE’s international tour performances, and more. The DVD will also contain 256k MP3s of the entire album for higher quality downloads to portable devices such as iPods.

“You start to realize there are maps inside of you that lead you to all sorts of insights you cannot possibly retrieve in the normal hours of the day,” says Rickie Lee. “Music is a true, living connection to the spirit, and it’s a higher work we do, whether it’s blues or jazz or punk or opera. Working with this text, improvising, and using this raw, tough sound was all new to me, so, in so many ways, I am new…new stars…new sun.” THE SERMON ON EXPOSITION BOULEVARD does sound like the beginning of an auspicious career in music, never mind the artist creating it has been making music for 27 years.

 
 
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Rickie Lee Jones is one of the most acclaimed and talented singer-songwriters of our time. Her career spans nearly three decades of incredible musical output spanning many genres: folk, rock, jazz, soul, spoken word and pop. Always fearless, Rickie Lee has consistently pushed her seemingly limitless creative abilities, as well as the music industry's envelope.

She first arrived on the scene in 1979, with a bang. Her first, self-titled album, released that year, received five Grammy nominations, including Best Song for "Last Chance Texaco", Best Album, Best Pop Vocal and Best Rock Vocal. As it happened, she won Best New Artist, and her career was launched. That album's eventual hit single, "Chuck E's in Love", was an unlikely success due to its bridge, in which the song virtually stops, and Rickie Lee speaks: "Is he here?....I look in the pool hall...Is he here? I look in the drug store. Is he here...?." Against the musical backdrop of that year, when disco and punk were on the rise, the fact that this song hit, and hit big, was phenomenal.

Four months after that debut, Rickie Lee was gracing the cover of Rolling Stone, and 18 months later she was featured on the cover again, kneeling, pink lipsticked, in a black bra and nylons, with some black lace tied around her waist. Her fashion sense was, for that time, unusual and garnered outrageous critical reviews. Many others, such as Prince's musicians Wendy and Lisa, as well as Pat Benatar, started dressing in " Rickie Lee mode", lace gloves combined with slips or spandex pantsuits and a beret. Ultimately, the Material Girl herself picked up the trend and of course we know the rest. Rickie Lee Jones as fashion icon has been documented in detail, perhaps most evocatively by New Yorker writer Hilton Als, but has been largely unheralded as such in the years since. Likewise, Jones' 11 minute video in 1979 was so successful in launching her career that a year later MTV launched its new music video channel for the sole purpose of showing how new media (specifically, video) could truly launch musical careers.

Jones released PIRATES in 1981 and then GIRL AT HER VOLCANO in 1983, which offered listeners an challenging mixture of jazz and pop. 1984 saw the release of THE MAGAZINE, whereupon she took a five year hiatus and moved to Paris. Rickie Lee returned in 1988 to have her only child, Charlotte, and to write FLYING COWBOYS with Steely Dan and producer/musician Walter Becker on her new label, Geffen. While "Satellites" was a 1989 hit, she found real success with her duet with long time pal Dr. John on "Making Whoopie", which won both of them a Grammy for Best Jazz Performance. She had also been nominated the year before for a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal for her rendition of "Autumn Leaves" on Rob Wassermann's DUETS.

Her next two records, TRAFFIC FROM PARADISE (1993) and NAKED SONGS (1995) were her final Geffen releases. GHOSTYHEAD, released in 1997, is considered by many fans to be her best record and certainly among her most unusual, using ambient and aggressive rhythm tracks against which she recited impressionistic lyrics. The accompanying live shows to support that release were a Coltrane-like exploration of sound and emotion. GHOSTYHEAD was followed by another extreme on IT'S LIKE THIS, a intimate and loving album of covers of a wide gamut of popular songs, from "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" to "Up the Lazy River". Continuing Rickie Lee's own tradition of mixing pop and jazz, ITS LIKE THIS featured Taj Mahal, Joe Jackson, Ben Folds, and others and was nominated for the Grammy for Best Pop Album in 2000.
The bootleg LIVE AT RED ROCKS was bought by Artemis and released in 2001, and 2003 saw the release of THE EVENING OF MY BEST DAY on V2. Iconoclastic guitarist Neils Kline remarked that this record "was the greatest non-selling record of the decade". However, Rickie Lee's records do continue to sell, year after year. Her latest release is a three-CD anthology honoring her career to date on Rhino, DUTCHESS OF COOLSVILLE.

The last thing to mention about Jones is of course her voice. Her unique and boyish tonality, offering no vibrato, and replete with a 40s-style jazz sensibility, has distinguished her from every other major singer in the modern era. Much imitated but rarely credited, Rickie Lee Jones is an unparalleled artist of great integrity and credibility. Although she is somewhat shy and reclusive in person, Rickie Lee's music has been a major force in for nearly 30 years, a major influence on the music of Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Edie Brickell, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Michelle Branch and many others.

 
 
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