After spending most of 2005 with her band Rilo Kiley opening for Coldplay on their American tour, Jenny Lewis cuts loose from the corporate arenas with her first solo album, a warm but prickly cure for all manner of ills at this time of year.
Generously she gives equal billing to the Watson Twins from Kentucky, whose uncanny sibling harmonies are the audio equivalent of a sepia tinge, giving this collection of contemporary songs the air of an instant classic.
The girl from Omaha's vocal quality stands easy comparison with the better female vocalists from the past 50 years, a country soul instrument that is more about poise than power. Of the 10 Lewis originals, 'Born Secular' is a gospel waltz picking a fight with God - while Chandra and Leigh Watson send the song spinning off the astral plain on the sublime fade - and the title track is a vivid and concise bit of storytelling, where a tarnished silver spoon leaves a dirt poor taste in the listener's mouth.
Lewis is joined by several of the current American indie alumni on a corking cover of the Travelling Wilburys' 'Handle With Care', and naturally takes the Tom Petty role, but that is a slight indulgence on a record that is about preserving the good old values in a brand new style.
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