Follow Us on Twitter

Jenny Lewis - Rabbit Fur Coat

Jenny Lewis, Rabbit Fur Coat

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

JENNY Lewis, the frontwoman of critically-lauded band Rilo Kiley, releases her debut solo album in the form of Rabbit Fur Coat and it’s an eye-opening affair steeped in old-school values.

The album was written almost entirely in Los Angeles and harks back to the warmth and variety of the record collection Jenny shared with her mother while growing up.

It hints at both a classic country style, as well as gospel, and there are times when the album will recall fond memories of the retro values to be found at the heart of the Coen brothers’ movie, O Brother, Where ‘Art Thou?

Lewis’ vocals are tailor-made for the slow, ambling style of many tracks, oozing class and lending many of the tracks an edge that might be missing without such an accomplished vocalist.

Needless to say, the album marks something of a departure from the Rilo Kiley style but that only makes it stronger.

It boasts backing vocals by gospel singers, The Watson Twins, and includes a brilliant cover version of The Travelling Wilbury’s Handle With Care, featuring Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes) and Ben Gibbard (Postal Service, Death Cab For Cutie).

Highlights therefore include the acoustic shuffle of The Charging Sky, which includes some really lush melodies, excellent slide guitar and really fun lyrics.

And the dreamy reflections of Melt Your Heart, which kicks off the whimsical line, ‘nothing is ever as good as it was’. It is one of several tracks that succeed in raising the hairs on the back of your neck thanks to the enchanting vocal power of Lewis’ sultry style.

The stripped back title track, Rabbit Fur Coat is another classic in the making, neatly offsetting Lewis’ sweet and innocent vocals with some altogether darker lyrics – ‘she put a knife to her throat, and over that rabbit fur coat, when my mum refused she kicked her out’.

The absolute highlight, however, is the cover version of Handle With Care that features a rollicking percussion and some excellent vocal change-overs, switching from Lewis during the verses to her guests during the super catchy chorus.

If you’re not particularly a fan of country tinged with gospel, or classic songwriting values, then this might be a hard sell, especially since there are a couple of tracks that are drenched in such values (Born Secular and You Are What You Love).

But for the most part this is an excellent solo effort that only looks set to make Lewis an even bigger name to treasure. Her talent is clearly immense.

Track listing:

  1. Run Devil Run
  2. 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)