Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue

After all her years serving in indie rock-cum-MOR outfit Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis found her true calling when she released her solo debut in 2006. With help from the Watson Twins, Lewis cut her solo teeth on Californian, sun-soaked country with the personal Rabbit Fur Coat, a darling album that portrayed her as a natural. Two years later, she returns with Acid Tongue. It doesn’t take long to hear the confidence bursting out of Lewis and she makes the most of it by replacing the modest bluegrass and twangy pop of her debut with some full-on rock, gospel, blues and AM gold. With help from guests like Elvis Costello, Zooey Deschanel, M. Ward and Chris Robinson, the variety is front and centre but much of the time Lewis is almost cocky in how she dresses her songs, not to mention the road movie-like narratives of her lyrics: sex, violence, drinkin’ and the highway. It’s an entertaining transformation that works on songs like the sympathetic "Godspeed” and the choir-backed confessional title track but I miss the intimacy that made Rabbit Fur Coat a standout. Moments like the swaggering blues of "The Next Messiah” and the boogie rock of "Fernando” upset the album’s sequence in a major way. I commend Lewis for trying her hand at something bigger but her comfort zone is in a much quieter, quainter place and there just isn’t enough of that here to meet the promise of her debut. (Warner)