Don’t let the title fool you: the new Rickie Lee has shed her old commercial skin and emerged as a smooth jazz balladeer. With a bare minimum of accompaniment, the album is a mellow and spaciously reflective collection of slow standards and slightly upbeat jazzy numbers. Jones didn’t have to change her singing style any to make the switch. She’s always had a lazy cool jazz approach to phrasing, with her pure-as-a-bell tone slurring around a melody with thick moodiness. The sparse accompaniment is handled most aptly by long-time sessions vet Robben Ford on nylon string guitar, with his jazz chord voicing and tasty fills. Jazz great Charlie Haden provides the bottom on bass for many of the slower numbers. Occasional lagniappe fills include a violin, a bandoneon (mouth piano), tenor sax by the great Joe Henderson and tenor and clarinet work by Bob Sheppard.
Jones shows us the little girl inside her on the playful baby-talk version of “Dat Dere,” a favorite from the Cannonball Adderley book, and the novel “I Won’t Grow Up.” “Up from the Skies,” by Jimi Hendrix, is a bouncy walkin’ blues with burning acoustic licks and lyrics tinged with acid consciousness. Not until the final two pieces does she hint back to her old material: “Love Junkyard,” with its “Chuck E.” groove and the melancholy “Comin’ Back to Me,” with its beautifully simple guitar and free-form vocal phrasing. Standard highlights include “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most,” “Bye Bye Blackbird,” and “The Ballad of the Sad Young Men.”