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Cover Hallowed Ground


There are typically two kinds of covers records: faithful renditions, which hew to the original compositions and chisel away little of their surfaces, and chancier collections that forge a new edge from the songs' basic elements. Clearly opting for adventure on her latest, The Devil You Know, Rickie Lee Jones delivers a stirring take on a handful of venerated tunes from artists such as The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Van Morrison, and Donovan, and one new song written specifically for her by the record's producer, none other than Ben Harper.

The Devil You Know opens with a haunting version of the Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil," and before you dismiss the song choice as too pat, check out the extent to which Jones strips it down to its most unfettered form and adds layers to its supernatural theme. She draws out the lyrics in an elongated rasp, morphing Jagger's sexy woos into voodoo coos and inhabiting the song with a gratifying spookiness. Jones does a similar number on the Stones' "Play With Fire," reducing it to an ephemeral yet affecting sketch.

Other surprises include a sweet-as-molasses-and-just-as-slow rendition of '60s folkie Tim Hardin's oft-covered "Reason To Believe," which Jones infuses with a revelatory tenderness, and a velvety translation of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart." Perhaps the only cover on the album to adhere to its founding is Donovan's "Catch The Wind," Jones likely sensing that any overhauling would detract from the song's simple power. In the pantheon of covers albums, this ranks right up there with Bowie's Pinups and Allison Krauss and Robert Plant's Raising Sand.