Jenny Lewis solo album easy on the ears

Trista Pinick and Leah Sewell

Trista:

Jenny Lewis, with The Watson Twins, is stunning on “Rabbit Fur Coat.” The album offers up smooth, musical vocals and a singular folk-rock sound fueled with well-composed simplicity.

Lewis is pleasing. Her voice is sweet, silky, reflective and smart, and The Watson Twins blend in harmonious perfection to complement her solo vocal style. The guitar picking is reminiscent of the “O, Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack.

The music itself is refreshing after listening to mainstream music-there aren’t hooks and the melody and rhythm isn’t complicated, but instead is beautiful, open and bare. It doesn’t overpower or bore the ears.

“Run Devil Run” is the first song on the album. It opens with guitar then acappella vocals. It’s a good choice to get a feel for what the rest of the CD will be. Interesting, satisfying and captivating.

The songs get more rhythmically intricate as track two, “The Big Guns,” begins, but maintain balance and artistry throughout.

“Rabbit Fur Coat,” the song, showcases Lewis’ ability to take a quiet, sad song and make an expressive impact with it.

There wasn’t a bad song on this CD, but for anyone interested in hearing Lewis’ sound before taking a chance (although you won’t be disappointed unless you have no taste) on this group, a sampling of the songs on “Rabbit Fur Coat” can be found at their myspace blog.

******

Leah:

The solo album from Rilo Kiley front woman Jenny Lewis is flawless. “Rabbit Fur Coat” has energy and lulls. It has the blues and anger and joy and indifference. But most importantly, it has Jenny Lewis singing her heart out on every single track. Her voice is velvety childish innocence even as she does sophisticated things with it in the whispery breathless spots and the growling blues woman spots. The Watson Twins harmonize and add a flavor like Patsy Cline jukebox meets secular gospel.

It would be difficult to neatly place “Rabbit Fur Coat” into a genre. Many tracks, like “The Charging Sky,” which opens with a twangy steel guitar, lean toward folk or country. Others have simple and pretty melodies, such as the album’s namesake, “Rabbit Fur Coat.” Do not expect the Rilo Kiley “alternative” sound here, but do expect the lyrics to be in a similar vein; they are thoughtful and startling. Check out this gem: “In the desert underneath the charging sky / it’s just you and God, / but what if God’s not there? / But his name is on your dollar bill / which just became cab fare.”

A notable track is the collaborative cover of the Traveling Wilburys song “Handle With Care,” featuring Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie) on a 12-string guitar and Colin Oberst (of Bright Eyes) doing the vocal part that was originally Bob Dylan’s.

“Rabbit Fur Coat” is worth every penny for its timelessness, its soul and for the loving way it treats your ears. Buy this album.