Written by TTB member Simon.
As someone who is dependent on music in many ways, I look forward to every opportunity to discover new experiences that I can get. Occasionally, I hope to provide others with new music in return. Picking one artist from my library of musical discoveries is a tough choice indeed. When I decided not to go with the obvious (U2) or the redundant (Snow Patrol) the decision making process became a tad bit easier. My contribution to this series aims to highlight someone perhaps not too well-known for the mainstream consumer of popular music.
Born in what is considered the heart of show business, Las Vegas, Jenny Lewis started out her own career in entertainment as an actress rather than as a musician. In her early twenties, Lewis formed and fronted the indie rockband Rilo Kiley. After the group parted ways in 2011, Lewis now focuses on a solo career. Jenny Lewis is no stranger to collaborations since her solo debut “Rabbit Fur Coat” featured support by The Watson Twins and Lewis’ most recent project “Jenny and Johnny” involves her boyfriend, fellow musician Jonathan Rice. Lewis has also lent her vocal talents to Bright Eyes, Elvis Costello, Brandon Flowers (frontman of The Killers) in addition to joining the Glaswegian group Belle and Sebastian for a guest live performance of their song “Lazy Lane Painter Jane”.
Undeniably, discovering Jenny Lewis opened up an entirely new world to me. I was introduced to Lewis’ music through a friend of mine several years ago and the first song I might’ve heard was either “The Frug” (Rilo Kiley – “The Initial Friend EP”) or “Rise Up With Fists!” (Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins – “Rabbit Fur Coat”) I can’t remember anymore. I was hooked right away and asked for more and I realize in hindsight that this was probably the defining event that caused me to continuously explore the female singer-songwriter genre ever since.
Four years ago this October will mark the first and only time I’ve witnessed the talent of this extra-ordinary performer in person. I’ve longed for the next opportunity to see Jenny live again but I need to be patient. The 2008 gig gave me memories for a life-time and the perhaps strongest lasting impression is when in the middle of the set, Jenny says“Hey, we’re coming out there!”. Lewis and her band stepped down from the small stage of the venue and passed me and my friends in front row to perform “Acid Tongue” unplugged in the center of the intimate venue. It was such a small gesture yet it really broke down the barriers between the performer and the audience that night.
I’ve yet to witness any other artist repeat something like that in their show. I had learned of the gig a couple of weeks prior from a tiny ad in the paper. I almost missed it and being a university freshman, I wasn’t sure that I could attend. Luckily, things sorted themselves out and I had the best night of my life. Jenny & Johnny made a stop in Sweden last year after Lewis cancelled a solo appearance in 2009. The organisers had apparently decided that for 2011, the “Where The Action Is”-festival would be moved to Gothenburg as opposed to Stockholm where it was held for two consecutive years. Sadly, I couldn’t make the 6 hour trip. Lewis is currently underway with recording her third, currently untitled, solo album in-between stops on an imminent tour around California. Hopefully, the release of new music will bring this musical virtuoso back to Stockholm before long.
What is there not to adore about Jenny Lewis? The woman has an impressive vocal range, a variety of musical styles, sharp yet heart-warming lyrics. All of this comes in an impressively petite package considering the rich content. Come to think of it, there is actually a Snow Patrol connection to Lewis as well. She supported the lads in Sydney a couple of years back.
Start with the list below, hopefully you will find something appealing. Whether it is the indierock of Rilo Kiley, the American folk music of her last two solo efforts or the sunkissed California-pop from I’m Having Fun Now, there is something out there for a variety of tastes.
- Silver Lining (Rilo Kiley – Under The Blacklight, 2007)
- The Charging Sky (Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat, 2006)
- Godspeed (Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue, 2008)
- Big Wave (Jenny & Johnny – I’m Having Fun Now, 2010)
- Hard Enough (Brandon Flowers feat. Jenny Lewis – Flamingo, 2010)
- Lazy Line Painter Jane (Belle and Sebastian feat. Jenny Lewis, live 2011)
- Barking At The Moon (Jenny Lewis – Bolt Original Soundtrack, 2008)
Official website: http://www.jennylewis.com/
Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0507343/