Monday, November 1, 2010

Jenny and Johnny

Back in September, Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice released their album I’m Having Fun Now under the name Jenny and Johnny. I’m a huge Jenny Lewis fan. I think everything she’s done is gold. From Rilo Kiley’s very first album to her last solo release, Acid Tongue (especially Acid Tongue), everything is almost perfect. I’m pretty much indifferent to Johnathan Rice, the musician. He has a few good songs, but nothing that I’ve completely fallen for. And he comes across as kind of a dick.

But, I’m Having Fun Now makes it clear they were born to sing together. In Rilo Kiley, Jenny would sing along with songwriting partner Blake Sennett and vice versa and it was nice and the songs are great, but they didn’t really sing together like Jenny and Johnny do. Their voices blend so beautifully. Their perfect harmonies are set to a sunny California backdrop with some rather biting lyrics. If you know anything about the history of Rilo Kiley, you can’t help but wonder if a lot of these songs are about her former bandmate, Blake. Take “My Pet Snakes” for instance. It certainly sounds like a song directed at someone she’s worked closely with in the past.

Jenny is not the only songwriter on this album. Johnathan has his songs, as well. They split the tracks pretty evenly. He has some good ones on here. “Animal” and “Committed” being the first two to come to mind. The latter took me a while to get into and has now become one of my favorite songs on the album.

The only downside to this album, for me, is that it is pretty negative. Jenny and Johnny and seem to be building a little island for themselves to live on. A lot of these songs appear to be direct attacks of people they used to know. Obviously, I don’t know that for sure. But they sound pretty directed and personal. Or maybe that’s just a testament to their songwriting abilities.

This album will definitely make my top albums of the year. A short collection of simple pop/rock songs. Happy music with sinister lyrics. I’m glad Jenny Lewis is able to explore all aspects of herself musically with all of these different releases she’s been putting out. And, though I do find this collaboration with Johnathan Rice to be highly enjoyable, I do hope she and Blake can set aside their differences and make another great collection of Rilo Kiley songs someday. I think Jenny needs to rock out again.

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