When Jenny Lewis' solo debut sashays its way into record stores this Tuesday, it will surely be smothered in stickers--"Lead singer of Rilo Kiley...you know, those cute indie-rock darlings who were recently signed to Warner Bros. Oh, and Jenny starred in the movies Troop Beverly Hills and The Wizard too." The real sticker might be shorter, but with a rapidly growing fanbase, her expectations are certainly that lengthy. The question, then, is whether Lewis proffers a true solo album, surprising fans with a drastically different musical approach, or serves a platter of heard-this-before Rilo Lite. For the most part, the former wins out--Lewis pulls off a convincing turn as an old-timin' country/soul singer rather than a generic singer-songwriter. Tucked into the middle of the album, "Melt Your Heart" is the epitome of what makes Rabbit special, melting Lewis' voice into a Mazzy Star-style coo over brushed snare drum, organ, acoustic guitar and gospel singers the Watson Twins' doo-wop touches. Unfortunately, "You Are What You Love" follows with something ripped right out of the Rilo Kiley catalog--the volume is lower, and the song is smart and catchy, but it still sounds like an older full-band song shoved into this album to fill out the track list. This back-and-forth happens a few more times, and it's as close to a complaint as Rabbit's gonna get. But if you don't mind the split personality--and with a voice so sweet and instrumentation so graceful, who really will?--you're in for a darling, introspective look at a young woman making sense of her spirituality. Hey, Team Love--use that as a sticker instead.
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