I don’t know what’s more tantalizing, hearing Jenny Lewis channel Patsy Cline and Dusty Springfield on her solo debut Rabbit Fur Coat, or imagining her draped in the album’s namesake. Yes, Lewis has that Gwen Stefani cross-over appeal that makes men think big picture.
Lewis, The Rilo Kiley front-woman has struggled with her child star-meets-sex symbol status with grace, yet after a summer of opening the big sheds for Coldplay, you knew her star was about to shine brighter. Rabbit Fur Coat reinvents Lewis as a brainy borderline diva, who merges her indie spunk with cozy bygone harmonies.
If a cover of the Traveling Wilbury’s “Handle With Care,” with guest spots from Ben Gibbard, M. Ward and Conor Oberst in place of the Harrison/Petty/Dylan/Orbison hall of fame team isn’t a decent enough calling card, than lets begin with the basics. Rabbit Fur Coat is produced by Ward and Mike Mogis, and reaches back to Rilo Kiley’s Saddle Creek alt-country roots. The Watson Twins add gospel vocal sprinklings to the upbeat rousers that might find their way onto a Riley Kiley album – “The Big Guns,” ‘Rise Up With Fists” and “The Charging Sky.” And Lewis lets her own voice do the talking on the sparse title track, “Happy” and “It Wasn’t Me. If anything is missing, and little is, the confessional songs need a bit more color, perhaps a little more M.Ward would do the trick. Most of what