Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins 

Rabbit Fur Coat

We are rightly conditioned to flee in terror whenever alt-rock and indie stars "go country" -- their attempts at down-home rootsiness often end up condescending and ridiculous. (Case study: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.) But Rilo Kiley's yearning pop-rock was already trending Southward when More Adventurous broke big in 2004, setting the table for frontlady and ingenue Jenny Lewis' truly amazing solo debut. Rabbit Fur Coat is a breathy, earthy confessional gem, weeping softly on a backstage stairwell at the Grand Ol' Opry. Its more rockin' full-band moments ("You Are What You Love" especially) evoke Jenny's main gig, but it's the hushed vocal-and-guitar strum of intimate burners like "Happy" and the title track that really make this record sing like Patsy Cline mopily looking up old boyfriends on MySpace. Even a goofy, star-studded cover of the Traveling Wilburys' "Handle with Care" can't break that spell, and when Lewis' voice intertwines with gorgeous Watson Twins harmonies on "Born Secular," you'll see ... well, not God, then, but certainly possible proof of intelligent design.


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