October 07, 1991 12:00 PM

Rickie Lee Jones

There are moments when Jones sounds so cutesy-sweetsy—”Dat Dere” on this album, say—you could attach a paper cone to her and have instant cotton candy. There are other moments when her often mushy diction dissolves totally, as in “I’ll Be Seeing You,” in which she sings “and when the day is through” as, more or less, “ah en uh ay ih ooooh.”

There are few pop singers as distinctive or full of surprises as she is, though, and she is adept at finding songs, obscure and otherwise, that fit her melody-, lyric-, tone-bending style.

This quiet, mostly acoustic album, coproduced by popster David Was, ranges from “Hi-Lili Hi-Lo” and “Bye Bye Blackbird” to the Tommy Wolf-Fran Landesman tune “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Up from the Skies” (in a subdued version Jimi might not recognize) and “Comin’ Back to Me,” by Starship’s Marty Balin.

With such musicians as bassist Charlie Haden and guitarist Robben Ford providing apt punctuation for Jones’s unpredictable phrasing, the album has a spontaneous, introspective feel. Hearing it is like eavesdropping on someone talking to herself—you don’t know who’s more eccentric; her for singing this way, or you for paying attention. But multipeccadilloes aside, it’s curiously tempting to keep listening. (Geffen)

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