Spun: Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis comes across on her second album, Acid Tongue, like an indie pop star determined to prove the merits of her solo alt-country career. She throws around influences like Dolly Parton casually and boasts guest vocals by Elvis Costello. It’s an alright, but mostly confused-sounding album with tracks like “Black Sand,” which never really develops past its first piano-laden saccharine verse, in spite of orchestral prodding, and songs like “Pretty Bird,” which starts out in classic country, but loses all direction in adult contemporary. Some songs are just weak, with drab or out of place instrumentation and arrangements that sound too much like their influences to be much else.

In spite of its confusion, Acid Tongue deserves credit for maintaining an incredible tongue in cheek flavour that manifests in the almost slide blues stomp of “See Fernando,” and “Next Messiah,” an eight minute honky-tonk rock opera. Further to its humour, Lewis’ vocals, while sometimes a bit unimaginative, are consistently fitting and serve as the high points with the almost Mo-town pop song “Trying My Best to Love You,” the old country title track and “Bad Man’s World.”

Acid Tongue is an album where you can expect to hear influences more than the songs they’re paying homage to, but can also expect solid vocals, good singles and, as a small bonus, faux Polaroids of all the members of the band in the sleeve. Mediocre is perhaps too harsh a term for an album that generally sounds good, but fails to be engaging.

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