Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue
Miss Fliss 27/10/2008
Elvis Costello sounds like he's going to give himself a heart attack, or at least choke on his own lips, with the overly physical forceful effort he puts into his guest vocals on Carpetbaggers, one of the star tracks on the latest Jenny Lewis album. It's a curious complement to the more lovingly languid and liquid gold vocal performance of Jenny herself.
I like the alt country musical world that Jenny Lewis decants. In the same way that Bright Eyes create a lovelier version of folk music, Jenny Lewis is the acceptable face of country music, bringing it up to speed for modern listeners.
Acid Tongue affords Jenny with a different indulgence to the more acceptably indie pop Rilo Kiley. Things are somewhat slower and dallying than with the delightful Rilo. I haven't got the authority to compare her third solo album with earlier efforts or her work with the Watson Twins, since I've yet to investigate, so you'll have to bear with me on that. But, judging on this evidence, this is largely background bar room music. Nothing much truly grabs the listener with full pelt, demanding repeat listens or an invitation to their heart.
But that voice. It's honey-lovely. Words such as 'sassy' or 'sultry' are condescendingly inappropriate - Jenny has an authority that you wouldn't want to mess with or question. At the same time, it's sublimely seductive.
Title track Acid Tongue (I've been down to Dixie / and dropped acid on my tongue, Lewis explains) is the apex of the album. Walls of silence are broken out of with cosy acoustic guitar, gospel backing vocals, and Jenny's holy gold voice. More songs in this vein and campfires would be happier places. And Sing A Song for Them is a gently pretty gem.
As a whole, this album is a pleasant jaunt, but modestly so. Save for two or three truly great songs, and a handful of minor sweet moments, the melodies are too idle to pique, and were it any other singer's voice, the CD would surely bypass me, sadly.