Music Reviews
Acid Tongue

Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue

(Warner Brothers) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

She’s almost there. Not quite, but almost. As Rilo Kiley stumbles and sidesteps its conventions to explore new areas so does Jenny Lewis with her solo material. Thankfully, she does it more naturally and honestly than her band does. With a lot of guests in tow and a more soulful, edgier sound Jenny seems to have found a comfortable niche since 2006’s Rabbit Fur Coat with her most recent effort, Acid Tongue.

Heavier on piano tunes and lighter on acoustic ones this time around, Jenny Lewis feels finally at home. Needless to say, her voice is pristine and she no longer needs to understatedly speak-sing her way through songs, a technique she became known for in early Rilo Kiley. Here she is a diva of the plains. Tough and earnest, she sings about some bleak topics and has no problem pointing fingers, always in the right directions.

Lewis is not alone on this one. Zooey Deschanel, Jonathan Rice and M. Ward are all involved and guest on multiple tracks. Rice even co-wrote about half of the songs here. Most inexplicably is Elvis Costello’s punky whine that pops up in the second verse on Carpetbaggers. The song is definitely influenced by Costello’s crunchy guitar sound, but it’s a bit jarring when he first starts singing. The Next Messiah is Jenny’s most ambitious piece yet. The 8-minute southern rocker indicates a path away from that of the indie-pop world she came from. It’s the darker reserve that has always been available and is finally being mining.

Acid Tongue is fuller and has more of a ragged, live-band feel than any of Lewis’ previous work. The acoustic title track steals the show and finally gives her a bare setting to shine as a vocalist. Embracing blues roots again, Jack Killed Mom is a long-winded, dark romp about exactly what the title says, someone named Jack killing his mother. When Lewis shoots from the hip and has the melodies and woe to back it up, all is well. Unfortunately there aren’t enough powerful songs here. Some tracks simply don’t come into their own, especially when they don’t play to her strengths. This same problem pervaded Rabbit Fur Coat. Culling the best tracks from her two solo efforts will make a great mix though. She’s almost there.