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Jenny Lewis With The Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 22 / 1 / 2006

Jenny Lewis With The Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat
Label: Rough Trade
Format: CD


Likeable but not very inspiring indie and alt.country rock on debut solo album from Jenny Lewis, the glamorous frontwoman with Rilo Kiley

Whilst not the most adventurous of bands, Rilo Kiley have built a reasonable following with their energetic and emotional indie rock. Their three albums all demonstrate quirky, wordy, likable song writing and having Conor Oberst,the trendsetter of the moment, as a supporter, label mate and friend hasn’t done them any harm either.It was the Bright Eyes mainman that persuaded Rilo Kiley’s glamorous vocalist Jenny Lewis to record her own solo album, and in the US released it on his own label. Time will tell if this is a diversion or the beginning of the end for her group. Like most of her band’s music, the songs on ‘Rabbit Fur Coat’ are likeable but not revelatory. Some of the lyrics seem overworked, and others are simplistic. Musically, she seems unsure whether she wants to be accessible or to impress her indie admirers, and this makes some of her songs (especially the title track) unnecessarily awkward. Yet there are some good songs here, and the whole record does have a warm sound and a relaxing feel. Especially enjoyable is 'You Are What You Love', a mid tempo ballad, with a husky vocal from Lewis. Another high point is a cover of the Travelling Wilburys' 'Handle With Care', which features vocals from Jim James, M Ward and Conor Oberst. The album’s easy, country rock stylings make for good mood music. Fans of Rilo Kiley will recognise the catchy melodies and warm vocal style (enhanced by the pristine harmonies from the Watson Twins), and will want to give this album a listen. But though it sounds pleasant, this isn’t a record I can see many people giving repeated listens to in a year’s time. There simply isn’t enough here to distinguish this from the many other singer songwriters operating at present. It was unfortunate to be released in the same month as the more experienced Cat Power’s career high 'The Greatest', which is far more enjoyable and less sure of itself, but in fact 'Rabbit Fur Coat' doesn’t offer any convincing reason why Jenny Lewis has been tipped for stardom. While I don’t want to make unfair comparisons, record buyers will surely be more tempted by the quirks of Cat Power, Bright Eyes or M Ward, whilst mainstream listeners will be more likely to embrace simpler songs than these.Any listeners who are looking for the kind of classic pop/folk/soul/country sound Jenny Lewis produces would be better off doing just that, I imagine, and selecting a real classic. Compared to Carole King or Joni Mitchell, Jenny Lewis’s first solo album is merely average. This record, though reasonable, is for established Rilo Kiley fans only.

Track Listing:-
1 Run Devil Run
2 The Big Guns
3 Rise Up with Fists!!
4 Happy
5 The Charging Sky
6 Melt Your Heart
7 You Are What You Love
8 Rabbit Fur Coat
9 Handle With Care
10 Born Secular
11 It Wasn't Me
12 Happy (Reprise)

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