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November 10, 2008

I love Jenny Lewis

jenny lewisMy friend Pat Gavin really, really likes the singer and songwriter Jenny Lewis.

Ever heard of her? If you listen to indie rock, you probably have. 

If not, all you need to know is, she's a child actor turned singer. She fronts a band called Rilo Kiley, and released two solo albums in the past couple years.

I've heard people praise her. I've heard people tear her down.

Today my dear friend Pat wants to share his love of Ms. Lewis with all of us.

This time next week, I'm going to take up the anti-Jenny Lewis stance. But for now, here's what he thinks ...

jenny lewisIn the interest of full journalistic disclosure, I will now admit a few things. I like Jenny Lewis ... a lot.

That lovely picture Sam put next to the article -- that's my computer desktop. I like her more than I like my iPhone. But what's not to like? She writes, sings and performs the crap out of her songs. And her fiery red hair smells like cinnamon (I just assume).

Jenny has forever been a fantastic storyteller. As one Amazon reviewer puts it, the tri-perspective "A Man/Me/Then Jim" from More Adventurous is the sort of song that "makes you stop whatever you're doing and just listen." Her skills as a raconteur are in full effect on the new solo joint Acid Tongue, in full-on rock medleys "The Next Messiah" and "Jack Killed Mom."

Jenny's talents have been evident since her Saddle Creek days: An angelic voice working in perfect synergy with lyrics that are endearing one second ("it's your little red wagon and you've got to pull it") and breezy the next ("My momma is an atheist / If I stay out late she don't get pissed") ...

With "Acid Tongue," she still plays to these strengths, but without a radio-friendly pop single in sight, she isn't likely to become American's sweetheart just yet. In other words, it's still not to late to adore her, cannibalize and co-opt her identity and music into part of your pathetic indier-than-thou personality and then get tired of it all and spit her out all before your friends with only a casual interest in music discover her. I mean, you know, if that's your thing.

jenny lewisMaybe you didn't like "Moneymaker" from the last Rilo Kiley album, Under the Blacklight. One year and twenty two new Rilo/Jenny songs later, it's time to get over it.

Personally I liked that tune (especially the acoustic version the crafty Googler can find on the net). Sure it was virtually verse-free, but hell, a bunch of Dylan songs didn't even have refrains. If "Moneymaker," Jenny's "gone electric" song of sorts, wasn't your cup 'o tea because you thought it was a major label compromise, OK, I can see that. But to date, it's been her only compromise in nine years and seven consistently excellent albums.

For the artist with a work rate that makes Lil' Wayne look like a slouch -- contributing vocals and verses to Elvis Costello, the Postal Service and others while churning out an album a year -- the joy is in seeing what Jenny will do next.

(AP photos) 

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:26 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff


Got writer's block Sam?

i love jenny too! best live show i've ever seen was her at the recher; her connection with an audience is amazing. great voice, great lyrics, and a lot of diversity between rilo and her solo stuff. and she is an indie fashion plate:)

I've liked Jenny and Rilo Kiley for years, ever since I saw them open up for Superchunk at the Black Cat (I think four or five years ago). My friend suggested "Acid Tounge"- this reminds me that I need to put it on my iPod.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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