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Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
Rabbit Fur Coat
Team Love Records

Rabbit Fur Coat, the first solo offering from Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis (backed by Louisville natives Chandra and Leigh Watson), is a delightful collection of gospel- and country-tinged songs reminiscent of Virginian-era Neko Case. Filled with tales of down-and-out relatives, crises of faith, political frustrations, and modern romantic complexities, Rabbit Fur Coat is old-school country laced with elements of contemporary cowpunk, blue-eyed soul, and roots rock.

The album's opener "Run Devil Run" is an a capella gospel song, featuring three-part harmonies by Lewis and the Watsons, that ends with the refrain "Run devil run...away from love." "Run Devil Run" converges with the following track, "Big Guns," a twanging guitar lament about losing faith in the face of violence and chaos of the modern world that features a stomping rhythm. Likewise, "Rise Up With Fists" is a political lament in which Lewis critiques everything in American society from the pressures placed on women by the Hollywood beauty machine to infidelity and lax morals. "I still believe, and I will rise up with fists," she tenaciously proclaims over a country-rock melody. In "The Charging Sky," Lewis changes her focus to world politics, pleading for US assistance in the African AIDS crisis over a minimalist rockabilly/roots-rock beat.

Lewis's love songs are equally contemplative, exploring the difficulties of relationships while seemingly affirming the need for intimacy nonetheless. "Happy" finds Lewis debating over whether she wants to remain in a relationship, while still ironically proclaiming her happiness in the chorus. "Happy" is undoubtedly one of the highlights of Rabbit Fur Coat - a hybrid country track with old-school guitar riffs laced with modern feedback, all accented by Lewis's torchy alto. "You Are What You Love" also features sultry, soft vocals over a melody that is infused with both rockabilly and lounge touches. "You Are What You Love" is a "baby, take me back" song that finds Lewis examining why she and her lover are so entangled and yet can't seem to stay together. The album's sole cover, a cowpunk version of The Traveling Wilburys' "Handle With Care," finds Lewis (with vocal help from Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst and Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard) pleading for her lover to take care with her already broken heart. Rabbit Fur Coat ends with a reprise of "Happy," featuring only Lewis's sultry, echoing vocals and hand percussion.

While Lewis's lyrics may occasionally be somewhat repetitive, Rabbit Fur Coat is anything but tedious. Lewis's breathy vocals and contemplative lyrics, as well as the stellar musicianship of the Watsons, make Rabbit Fur Coat an alt-country gem, filled with twangy melodies, dance-worthy rhythms, and adept observations on life and love.

-Tracy M. Rogers

Track List:
1. Run Devil Run
2. Big Guns
3. Rise Up With Fists
4. Happy
5. The Charging Sky
6. Melt Your Heart
7. You Are What You Love
8. Rabbit Fur Coat
9. Handle With Care
10. Born Secular
11. It Wasn't Me
12. Happy (Reprise)

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