Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins’s ”Rabbit Fur Coat” due

Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins
“Rabbit Fur Coat”
(Rough Trade Records)
January 2006

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The eternally modest and self-effacing Jenny Lewis explains away the circumstances that led up to the writing and recording of her debut solo album with a typically charming and off the cuff “I had a couple of thousand dollars that I’d saved up from touring, and the stock market seems like a bust…” Of course, she’s being bashful. In truth “Rabbit Fur Coat” is anything but a gamble.

Known and loved by many as the enchanting front-woman for LA’s critically lauded Rilo Kiley, Jenny’s vocal and songwriting gifts have continued to blossom at a rapid rate since that band’s first album in 2000.

“Rabbit Fur Coat” may be her solo debut, but there’s nothing virginal about it. From the opening track “Run Devil Run” to the closing reprise of “Happy” Jenny’s hauntingly soulful voice, sometimes bursting with buoyant spirit and at other times plaintive and world wearied, is deep, sensual and beguiling. Rilo fans won’t be surprised to find her intricate storytelling and evocative lyrics infusing these songs with a captivating vibrancy, but they may be knocked sideways by the musical alchemy at play. Admitting to an almost life-long appreciation of Laura Nyro’s classic “Gonna Take A Miracle” and Bob Dylan’s “New Morning” Jenny brings her love of folk, country and Southern gospel to these songs. The result is nothing short of gorgeous.

Written almost entirely in Los Angeles during 2004, “Rabbit Fur Coat” harks back to the warmth and variety of the record collection she shared with her mom whilst growing up. Classic without feeling nostalgic, the album was lovingly crafted together during short spurts of recording activity in the San Fernando Valley, Portland, Oregon and Lincoln, Nebraska – due to the shared production duties of celebrated finger-picking guitar prodigy M.Ward and Nebraska’s resident production genius Mike Mogis. The magnificent backing vocals come courtesy of gospel singers Chandra and Leigh Watson (The Watson Twins).

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