Rewind Review: Acid Tongue

23 Jul

Jenny Lewis

I am enraptured by Jenny Lewis.  Her voice is quite simply intoxicating, and her lyrics are droll and devastating.  Between her work with Rilo Kiley, Postal Service and on her own it is pretty clear that she is one of those soon to be iconic artists of our time.    

Yes, yes – I know, I was once again late to the party on this one.  I vaguely knew it happened but it took me forever to get off my ass and actually get the album.  Holy Hell am I glad I finally did.  Musical addictions seem to pass quickly these days when getting a new album is but a click away and your ipod can carry hundreds of albums at a time.  But I have been listening to Acid Tongue almost exclusively for the last week and the few albums that do squeeze in some valuable tune-time are harshly graded against its high standard.  Its the kind of album you felt you’ve heard a hundred times but still somehow feels completely new.  

Acid Tongue takes many cues from the country rock of decades past.  Not unfamiliar territory for Lewis, especially considering her first release.  Rabbit Fur Coat seemed to strain under the stress of its tightly woven material, as though there were vast reserves of untapped energy in each song.  This album has a far looser composition and almost every track drips with distorted guitar and lush quivering vocals.  Ranging from low tempo ballads like ‘Pretty Bird’ to epic 8 minute raucous medley’s like ‘The Last Messiah’ the album sounds like nothing she has done before, yet clearly borrows experience from each of her previous releases.  

Jenny Lewis

Helping to round out the sound of the album, and contributing most of those seductive guitar licks is Johnathan Rice.  In fact ‘Carpetbaggers’, a duet with Elvis Costello, was penned for Lewis by Rice.  Unsurprisingly, they’re dating.  It is the kind of match indie music dreams are made of and results in some pretty powerful music to say the least.  

In trolling the internet to find out what others had to say about this album I was surprised by the amount of reviews claiming that Lewis’s songwriting suffered under the weight of the genre’s she chose to recreate.  Almost as though they were a straight-jacket on her creativity.  I couldn’t disagree more.  While I do think it’s obvious by listening to it that this is only one facet of an already accomplished lyricist, it also clearly served as a playground for a talent that could already go any direction it wanted.  And frankly I am more than happy to go anywhere Jenny Lewis cares to take me.  Especially if it sounds this good.

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One Response to “Rewind Review: Acid Tongue”

  1. violet July 27, 2009 at 3:20 pm #

    My roommate Salima was hanging out with Jenny Lewis after a show in L.A.

    This guy comes up to them. I don’t remember what he’s meant to have said, but I presume it was something like: “Hello, fine artist! I am very fond of your music, and in thanks, wish to give you a present, that I have made!” Then he gave her a pie.

    They backed away slowly.

    (Salima, later: “He’s not that bad. He’s just… goofy. Shy!” Jenny: “He baked me a pie, Sal.”)

    The last I’ve heard from her was Rabbit Fur Coat, but whenever I hear her sing, I kinda want to bake her a pie.

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