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Albums Of The Decade: #30

Rabbit Fur Coat - Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins [2006]

We - OK, I - kick off the list with an inclusion that probably surprises me more than you.

I liked Rabbit Fur Coat a lot on first listen, but couldn't see myself becoming completely enamoured with it. Good tunes, nice production, decent voice - I'll take it, I thought, but I won't take it with me to a desert island (in the unlikely event of being able to choose what I could take with me to a place I am forced to spent the rest of my life (take that, Radio 4)).

Yet I found myself going back to this album again and again. It is, quite simply, a very good album.

At its purest, Rabbit Fur Coat is a portrait of a youngish woman losing her faith in God but generally being pretty OK with it. It's an odd approach, but as miserably touching/touchingly miserable sulk Born Secular shows, it can work if pitched just the right side of cynicism. Lewis' heart isn't in the gospel refrain Run Devil Run; she's much more content sharing beers with her friends and praying once a week just because "it's a surefire bet [she's] gonna die" (lyrics from standout track The Charging Sky).

Clearly, a blues album this ain't, even if leading ballad Happy is the most misleading song title since Ironic. No, Lewis seems quite accepting of God's apparent absence, albeit in less of a live-fast-die-young way; more, "Well, since I'm going to die anyway I might as well listen to more Bob Dylan."

Indeed, the Minnesotan minstrel is a heavy influence on this album. Folk-tinged melodies, lyrics that steadfastly refuse to do something so boring as fit into metre or, y'know, make sense - Rabbit Fur Coat as a whole is more of a Dylan tribute than The Charging Sky's reference to his '80s beard or the cover of the Traveling Wilburys' Handle With Care (dutifully handled with care).

But that's perhaps doing Lewis a disservice. Her songs are intelligent and tender in equal measure, and there's an honest poetry in her lyrics:

Are you really that pure, sir?
Thought I saw you in Vegas
It was not pretty - but she was

It's throwaway lines like that, I think, that keep me coming back to this album. Good tunes, nice production, decent voice - plus genuine wit and wisdom.


Spotify link.


So there's the first, slightly overlong review - of #30, Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins' Rabbit Fur Coat, released in 2006. And I managed all that without once mentioning Rilo Kiley, Lewis' acting or Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service turning up in Handle With Care.

Ah shit.

Freedom, HAPPY, Life, Music, pretty, and more:

Albums Of The Decade: #30 + RUN