Jenny Lewis has developed into indie rock music’s unofficial queen, and for good reason.
She has been churning out successful music for years with her band Rilo Kiley and in 2006 she released her first solo album “Rabbit Fur Coat” on a new label started by fellow indie folk hero Connor Oberst which was welcomed by fans and critics alike with glowing reviews and a successful tour to all the indie music hotspots throughout the Untied States. The album was a mix of old time country-like tunes and more modern folk songs with a twist of indie music for good measure.
In September of this year she came out with a brand new solo album for the masses to listen to and revel in. The question is, however, did she make a new hit album or is it a dud? The answer is that it surpasses the title of “great” and can easily be referred to as one of the best albums of the year. I might even go out on a limb and say that it is my favorite thing she has done and I’m a really big fan of the first solo album as well as Rilo Kiley.
The new album is called “Acid Tongue” and it has, quite frankly, some of the best songwriting and musicianship on any album that has come out this past year. It is Jenny Lewis exposing a deeper part of herself on the ten tracks that make up the album. Take the opening track, “Black Sand,” for example. Lewis sings about meeting a young man on a beach and how he steals her heart away. She sings about him with a certain amount of fondness and nostalgia, something she usually doesn’t do in her songs. Her songs usually involve a story about a broken relationship that was never that good to begin with. On this song she sings in a falsetto that suggests that maybe it takes place in a much younger time for Lewis, maybe in her teenage years. It is easily one of the best songs on the album. This isn’t to say that the album isn’t dark, however. Quite the opposite actually.
It is a very dark album that touches on the themes that I talked about earlier and incorporates some new ones. “Carpetbaggers,” which features guest vocals by Elvis Costello, is about the type of people who came to small towns after the civil war, and “Jack Killed Mom” is a very blues/gospel oriented song about a woman chasing a man named Jack. The highlight of the album is the title track “Acid Tongue.” The song is one that is simple in its delivery but is so striking that it leaves the listener with a haunted feeling for days afterwards. The song is acoustic with Lewis singing by herself for most of it until the chorus, when she is joined by a large group of back-up singers most of whom seem to be male. It is one of the shortest songs on the album and accomplishes more than Rilo Kiley’s last album, “Under the Black Lights,” could do in its entirety.
The long and the short of it is that I can’t find hardly anything wrong with this album. Maybe a few of the songs go on a little too long but that really is just being nit-picky. This album is one of those rare finds where you can listen to it once all the way through and then start it over again from the top and listen to it all the way through again. It is one of those albums that makes you appreciate the nuances that go into making a song perfect. The harmonies are subtle but beautiful, the music can be minimalist on one song and then very intricate and involving on the next and the lyrics will make you smile and then break your heart all in the same sentence. So the next time you are downloading something (legally of course) give this album a try. It may just change your life… or at the very least make you really glad you bought it.