Sunday, April 16, 2006

Jenny was a friend of mine

Rilo Kiley's frontwoman Jenny Lewis has an astounding voice, rich, experienced and lush. Until this year it was only really heard by American Saddle Creek scenesters and those seeking to imitate them in Britain and perhaps elsewhere in Europe, with floppy fringes and converse trainers with Bright Eyes scrawled across their holy soles. Not so now, as Jenny Lewis' collaborative side-project album with Los Angeles' Watson Twins has become one of many people's favourite albums this year. I went to the gig with a group of friends who hadn't heard the album before and were going on the back of positive reviews - they were taken-aback by the beauty of her lyrics. She tells stories of characters and of herself in the country/folk tradition, absolutely heartfelt and honest. With Rilo Kiley her voice was arguably wasted on fairly standard indie-rock (even though I really like it!) but the kinda White Soul of Rabbit Furcoat fits the voice perfectly.

The live show was impressive. It was at Passionskirche, the most beautiful venue in the world, and somewhat fitting considering the frequent religious/gospel questions/references throughout the album. The band (including fitty singer-songwriter and J-Lew's beau, Johnathan Rice) came to the stage dressed entirely in black. The lighting was also dark, creating a very dramatic atmosphere as can be seen from my pictures. It was certainly more Walk The Line than Dollywood. The Watson Twins have been playing on all the dates and are a haunting presence, tall, slim, identical and also black clad, their otherwise soothing harmonies providing a slightly chilling depth to the arrangements.

The whole thing was enigmatic, there wasn't a huge amount of dialogue and Jenny's face was largely concealed behind her voluptuous fiery mane. It was all about the voice and the music and at one point in the encore, J-Lew came back on her own and sung the first part of a song unplugged, walking into the aisle before being joined by the rest of the band, showing that she is indeed fo' real. The gig, though not sold out, was a success - Berlin's record stores had sold out of her album by the end of the week and it'd be hard to imagine anyone leaving the Passionskirche that night feeling anything other than touched.

posted by Robbie de Santos at 4/16/2006 02:49:00 pm


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