Multi-faceted artists are booming in the indie-rock scene lately. Whether it be the New Pornographers and their many projects (Neko Case, Destroyer and AC Newman) or Broken Social Scene (Feist, Metric and Jason Collett), the stage is set for many more revolving door acts to emerge with success. Rilo Kiley is not far behind, contributing multiple members to SubPop's the Elected.
Now Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis is out to find her Americana roots with Rabbit Fur Coat. Aided by Kentucky sisters, Chandra and Leigh, aka the Watson Twins, Lewis leaves the pop hooks of Rilo Kiley behind to focus on simple country arrangements.
The opening "Run Devil Run" provides a soulful intro and blends into "the Big Guns," which underlines the Watsons' gospel like harmony. "Rise Up With Fists" almost seems religious, it might well be since "The Charging Sky" disappoints with Joan Osborne-esque references to the Almighty. The slide guitar solo, however, is a nice bonus. The lyrics are simple (which is fine) and listless (not fine!) but the melodies often feel bland. Lewis' vocals are well complemented by the twins yet the folk feel betrays her natural spark. Lyrics like "When you're kissing someone who's too much like you, it's like kissing on a mirror" leave much to be desired.
The highlights are the poignant "Happy" and the sparkling "You Are What You Love." And a vibrant and true cover of the Travelling Wilbury's, "Handle With Care." Featuring indie demi-gods Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie), Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) and M. Ward, ironic in terms of the project itself. All in all though, Lewis disappoints, leaving behind a glum, confused folk record.