While seemingly every interviewer in the world was busy asking Jenny Lewis questions such as, “How is your relationship with your mother?” and “Did you and Conor Oberst hook up?” or even the occasional, “So what’s the deal with you and fellow Rilo Kiley member Blake Sennett?” we, due to a lack of proximity to the pretty red-haired girl currently gracing the pages of both Jane and Spin magazines, decided to let her brand new album, “Rabbit Fur Coat” speak for itself.
You may know Lewis as the perky lead singer of Saddle Creek Records darlings Rilo Kiley, or as the female voice hiding in the background of The Postal Service’s 2003 release “Give Up.”
Rabbit Fur Coat is Lewis’ first full-length departure from Rilo Kiley, who, by the way, have not broken up.
“Run Devil Run,” the first song of the album, feels more like part of a religious service than anything else. There’s simply no other way to characterize her voice sweeping through the three words while The Watson Twins soulfully back her up.
Being the first song on the album, “Run Devil Run” turns the rumors of Lewis’ new affair with country music into facts.
Following the first track is the quick-strumming “The Big Guns,” which is basically as fast as the record gets.
It also may be the lyrical peak of “Rabbit Fur Coat” which, for an album full of a whole lot of soul, is quite straightforward when it comes to Lewis’ lyrical stylings.
Whereas Lewis is known for the implications of Rilo Kiley’s lyrics, she was willing to literally give us all the juicy details in this album.
This may add to the album’s up-close and personal feel, but at times it listens like a copy of Us Weekly.
Nonetheless, “The Big Guns,” while relatively up-front, leaves some things up to the imagination of the listener with lyrics like “First I’ll build a sword / Get some words to explain / It’s a plan, brother, at least/ And I’ll pretend that everybody here wants peace.”
In the title track, which feels like a waltz, Lewis’ voice is demure and exceptionally fresh while the content progressively ropes you into sadness and pity for Lewis’ lost childhood.
This juxtaposition of Lewis’ beautiful, adolescent-tone singing with the desperation of her lyrics is perfect. The song almost sounds as if it were thrown together around a campfire, but definitely in a positive way.
The album also features Lewis, along with fellow Omaha-scene musicians Oberst, M. Ward and Ben Gibbard, covering the Traveling Wilburys’ “Handle With Care.”
The song proves that she, along with those abovementioned, can see themselves and relay the fact that they’re very much influenced by the past of folk and country music.
As a whole, “Rabbit Fur Coat” fits Lewis well. Some may even think it fits her better than Rilo Kiley does.
I beg to differ. While the album lets us know about Lewis’ innermost thoughts, there’s just something more exciting about trying to figure them out myself.