|Acoustic Guitar, May-June 1994|
Kottke and Jones in the Studio
Paradise Found: Rickie Lee Jones Moves Deeper into
World of Acoustic Music
By Simone Solondz
Rickie Lee Jones met Leo Kottke through bassist and mutual friend John Leftwich, after being bowled over by Kottke's 1991 recording, Great Big Boy. She has said that the record got her back into songwriting after a long hiatus.
Kottke and Jones have since become close friends, and Kottke played on several tracks on Jones' latest recording, Traffic from Paradise, and cowrote one of the songs, "Running from Mercy." Kottke says of Jones' guitar playing on the record, "She's got a really unusual way of playing the guitar -- very surprising. There's a tremendous progression that she's running on a tune called 'Altar Boy,' which is a breathtaking song. What she plays on the guitar is really enviable, a beautiful idea. She has a descending thing in the bass that knocked me out the first time I heard it. She also steps out on 'Beat Angel.'"
Kottke also praises Jones' mandolin contributions to the recording. "She has a real voice on the mandolin. She's not at all a hesitant sort of musician. Mandolin was new to her, and she fell right in there. It sounds really idiomatic; it doesn't sound like a guitar player picking up a mandolin."
After Traffic, Jones produces Kottke's latest recording Peculiaroso. When asked how that collaboration came about, Kottke says in his usual laid-back manner, "We were having a big laugh in the studio one day, so I asked her if she wanted to produce mine. You can't trust anything unless you're having a rewarding time, and I love hanging around with Rickie. She's a real artist; she's the real thing. Without a debut the record would be something very different if she hadn't produced it."
Kottke maintains that there isn't a specific sound he can credit to Jones role as producer, but there is an overall feeling that he couldn't have achieved without her. "It's really hard to attribute anything. It's all attitude and posture and communication. Recording is never much fun. I don't know any musician who really likes to do it. It's embalming. You're in a room that's built for tapes and microphones; it's got nothing to do with humans. That's why you get people like Rickie, so you have someone to lean on."
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