Rilo Kiley is the indie-rock band that made Jenny Lewis a household name among the hipster set during the past few years.
Lewis is the rare Hollywood success story, the former TV child-star who avoids the pitfalls of fame and goes on to become a respected singer and songwriter in adulthood.
Lewis’s rich, soulful voice and her poignant, witty, songwriting-as-confessional approach really define Rilo Kiley’s overall sound and over the past few years she has become the face of the band, despite sharing singing and songwriting duties with band mate Blake Sennett.
In addition to her lovely singing voice, Lewis is a totally hot chick! Superficial as that may be, it surely accounts for some of the band’s popularity. Speaking on behalf of beautiful people everywhere, I can assure all of you common rabble that the gift of physical beauty is both a blessing and a curse. Such is our lot in life, carrying this burden. Pity us.
Acid Tongue is the second solo album Lewis has released apart from her output with Rilo Kiley, and a marked departure from the pop-oriented material that comprised Rilo Kiley’s 2007 release, Under The Blacklight.
Lewis veers from country to gospel on the gorgeous title track, and then from southern rock to garage rock on more gritty, down and dirty tunes like Next Messiah and See Fernando. Throughout the course of Acid Tongue, Lewis shows herself adept at crafting an eclectic and diverse album that manages to remain stylistically and tonally cohesive.
Lyrically, Acid Tongue explores the same themes Lewis sings about in Rilo Kiley. Jilted love and broken-hearted regret color the character sketches Lewis creates of the down and out in her home, Los Angeles. At times she reminds me of a contemporary Patsy Cline, only transplanted from the open plains to the city.
She has got that same world-weary twang, though, of someone older and wiser who’s done a lot of living. Pretty impressive for someone who spent their childhood appearing in sitcoms and made-for-TV movies.
Special guests, as wide-ranging as M. Ward, Elvis Costello, and Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes all make appearances on Acid Tongue.
I would be pretty stoked if I was recording an album and I could get those guys to sing on it. I think that reflects just how ambitious this album is, and the respect Lewis has earned for herself due to the quality of the music she has been creating for the past 10 years.