Review: Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue.

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Here’s a little review of the Jenny Lewis’s album Acid Tongue which, although it’s not a new album, is a new acquisition by me. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get hold of the last two tracks but when/if I do I’ll add them on to here.

1. BLACK SAND immediately makes me sit up and take a bit more notice. Her voice takes on an almost haunting quality but the soft background music contrasts with that to mean it’s not too in your face, just not what you could describe as bland. However, the continuous repetition of lyrics ‘on the black sand’ does mean it’s not my favourite song.

2. So far in my listening, Jenny’s voice on PRETTY BIRD has been my favourite. It’s unique which I like – some female artists are hard to distinguish from one another but this is definitely not a problem here. Lyrics are very much my favourite thing about some songs but with this the general gist of it is beautiful. The kind of song I’d like on in the background of a writing session to give me inspiration or to take my mind off the task in hand for three minutes while I ponder the beauty of life and nature!

3. The guitar riff at the start of THE NEXT MESSIAH makes me double check that I’m still listening to Jenny Lewis! Combined with the drums I’m definitely tapping my feet and anxious to see what this song holds. Her voice definitely does not disappoint. These lyrics make me think a lot more deeply than some of the others on the album (Now he’s living in the woods,/the dark and dank woods./With a cocktail waitress,/who thinks she’s an artist./Take her down to the river,/split her right up the middle./Now there’s gonna be trouble,/for a pregnant lamb and a convent.) The beats are melodic, the choruses are upbeat. Definitely one of my favourites, her voice can’t be described as lacking in any way. Plus a sudden change of pace in the middle breaks up the song nicely and is well needed considering the 8+ minute playing time.

4. Next we come to BAD MAN’S WORLD and I feel I’ve finally settled into her voice and the different intonations, the range and what she can do vocally. Once again I’m finding there’s a lot of repetition in many of her lyrics, sometimes it doesn’t bother me because it’s evidently more about her stunning voice pared down by the simplicity of the other aspects. Verses are very individual, leaving the repetition to the chorus. But once again I’m impressed by how her voice almost haunts you yet the upbeat music doesn’t leave you out in the cold. The music is much more layered in this song than others, meaning it doesn’t sound quite as raw.

5. Jenny Lewis’ voice washes over you in ACID TONGUE, with the gentle background voices and the acoustic guitar doing the same. However, when you really listen in you hear some lovely lyrics. First verse: “I went to a cobbler/To fix a hole in my shoe/He took one look at my face/And said, ‘I can fix that hole in you'” Altogether a very ‘nice’ song, it’s such a bland non-descript word but then again it’s the word that springs to mind.

6. SEE FERNANDO immediately got me jigging around in my seat before the guitar came in and well before her voice was present. It definitely took on a different tone and similarily, when her voice came in there was a lot more of a rocky edge to it – almost country sound in a way though. Definitely something you could play during a more upbeat evening- maybe not to get people dancing but definitely to get them swaying. And maybe singing along once they’ve had a couple of listens – her knack for repetition means it certainly won’t take too long to remember the lyrics for the chorus!

7. GODSPEED brings the listener back down to a slower pace and draws you in to her beautiful voice and the soothing music. Another song that washes over you and transports you to lazy Sunday morning lie-ins. Lyrics such as: “No telling what he’ll do I wouldn’t want him to hurt you in that way/Things you don’t say reach me somehow anyway/What are we gonna do-hoo with you, you dont make it easy on me” really speak to you like a friend giving advice. Perhaps my favourite toned down song so far.

8. Another great use of guitar (which I can’t fault so far) and another country-like twang to her voice on CARPETBAGGERS. And that’s definitely not a complaint as I’m definitely into that kind of thing. Plus they say you learn something new every day so my new fact for the day is definitely that a carpetbagger is apparently an “outsider who seeks power or success presumptuously.” So there you go! The male voice in the middle of this song doesn’t do it for me and altogether I’m not hugely into this song, especially when compared to her other offerings.

9. ‘Our love is sweeter than strings’ croons Jenny on TRYING MY BEST TO LOVE YOU and all I can say to that is her voice is sweeter than honey. I just want her to serenade me as I’m walking along a moonlit beach somewhere, this is definitely the kind of album that’s surprising me at each turn. Just as I think she’s taking one direction, she turns it back around again. There’s certainly no chance of getting bored unless you dislike most mainstream genres of music! I’m certainly not having to ‘try my best to love’ this album.

10. JACK KILLED MOM immediately reminds me of various tap-dancing competitions I took part in when I was small. And then it reminds me of some form of cabaret, Chicago-type song. I’m not sure I like Jenny’s voice as much on some of the less acoustic songs, but then you can’t fail to like all of the music on this album. Her voice is completely multi-dimensional though and I don’t dislike it on anything, I guess this song doesn’t demonstrate the full extend of her vocal abilities though.

11. Back to the heavy use of repetition during choruses on SING A SONG FOR THEM but with verse beauties such as: “To who you are and will never be/To the shaking hand of the maker we’re all gonna meet.” I’m not sure I can fault any of this album, even those tracks which aren’t my absolute favourite have lovely music, would make good backing music and, most importantly in my view, have her stunning voice at the heart of them.

Overall, a lovely listen. Probably a 7 or an 8 out of 10! 
Best song: I think Godspeed would be the stand-out for me, although I couldn’t pick a worst.
The album’s wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_Tongue
Jenny’s wiki info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenny_Lewis
And her website: http://www.jennylewis.com/intro/

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