Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins
Rabbit Fur Coat
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2006, Volume 13, #6
Written by Adi Anand
Lately, business is booming for multifaceted artists within the indie rock community. Whether it be the offshoots of The New Pornographers (Neko Case, Destroyer, and AC Newman) or the spin-offs of Broken Social Scene (Feist, Metric, and Jason Collett), the stage is set for many more revolving door acts to emerge and achieve success. Rilo Kiley is not far behind, already having contributed multiple members to SubPop’s the Elected. Now, the band’s front gal Jenny Lewis is out to find her Americana roots with Rabbit Fur Coat. Aided by Kentucky sisters Chandra and Leigh, a.k.a. The Watson Twins, Lewis leaves the pop hooks of Rilo Kiley behind in order to focus on simple, country-imbued arrangements.
The opening Run Devil Run provides Rabbit Fur Coat with a soulful introduction before it blends into The Big Guns, which underlines the Watsons’ gospel-like harmony. Rise Up with Fists feels like a spiritual, while the more overtly religious The Charging Sky, with its Joan Osborne-esque references to the Almighty, falls flat. Throughout the set, the lyrics are simple but listless, and the melodies frequently are bland. Although Lewis’ vocals are complemented nicely by the Watsons’ harmonies, the pervading folk-oriented ambience betrays her natural spark.
The highlights of Rabbit Fur Coat are the poignant Happy; the sparkling You Are What You Love; and a vibrant, well-executed cover of the Traveling Wilburys’ Handle with Care. Ironically, the collection also features guest appearances by indie rock demi-gods Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) and M. Ward, but in the end, Lewis disappoints by leaving behind little more than a glum, confused folk record. ½
Editor's Note: This article has been edited and reprinted with the full
permission of Country Standard Time.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box