Jenny Lewis Revisited

I’ve noticed that the indie hipster set is all upset about Jenny Lewis sacrificing her usual smarts and sexuality on her new album, Acid Tongue, but nothing could be further from the truth; sure, she’s ditched her wordiness and her overt cleverness, but that’s just because she’s tightened up the songwriting, and she exudes even more intelligence and sensuality now that she doesn’t sound like she’s trying so hard. And though she excels at elusive, slippery metaphors, as on opener “Black Sand,” she’s at her best when she’s crafting short stories and character sketches, which are personal but also universal. Lewis isn’t much for navel-gazing or confessional poetry– rather, she pays cheeky homage to her father in the epic workout “The Next Messiah,” a nasty piece of work about a master bullshitter, and she opens up about the life of an artist in some strange and startling ways on the title track. These songs are all tightly-wound, marked by an economy of language and a knack for imagery and cadence; and, if all else fails, some of these songs could probably coast by on their sheer locomotive energy (”Carpetbagger”). Though it all, Lewis shows that she’s clearly learned at the feet of absurdist-era Bob Dylan: She can write songs that are born out of her own life, but she makes them sound like weird fever dreams or impressionistic non-sequiters.

But why listen to me when you could listen to Jenny herself? Here’s a live rendition of “Acid Tongue”:

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