Jenny Lewis came to indie fame as the singer for Rilo Kiley; since then, her profile has all but eclipsed theirs. (I’d bet their latest album, Under the Blacklight, is their last.) Her 2006 solo debut album Rabbit Fur Coat had critics all in a tizzy and, if I’m not mistaken, sold better than any Rilo Kiley album.
I suspect her new album, Acid Tongue, will mark her official arrival as a Major Artist. It has guest appearances from Elvis Costello, Chris Robinson of The Black Crows, and Zooey Deschanel of She & Him. Its adventurous-yet-classicist countrified torch-song sound is very much in vogue these days. And face it: she’s a an ex-child actress, smart as a whip, idiosyncratic in her music and aesthetic tastes, and, ahem, hot. Oh, and she writes her own stuff. That’s all crack to the music press.
Not to say she isn’t legitimately talented. I was goo-gooing over her way back around RK’s first release. I prefer RK’s stuff to her solo material — it’s poppier and more propulsive — but this album is, nonetheless, a killer.
The indisputable highlight is this song, an almost-nine-minute multi-part epic called “The Next Messiah.” No, it’s not about Obama — I believe it’s about her father, who left her family when she was a child and with whom she was recently reunited (he plays some harmonica on the album). I love ambitious songs like this. More multi-part epics please!
Oh, here’s a video of Lewis (with the Watson Twins) on Letterman: