Jenny Lewis Is About The Granular Details And Splashes of Psychedelic Aesthetics Jenny Lewis Was Sublime Opening For DCFC At Forest Hills Stadium
“…The evening at Forest Hills Stadium opened with the iridescent Jenny Lewis, whose history with Gibbard reaches back to the early aughts collaboration in Postal Service (Gibbard’s electro-pop project with Jimmy Tamborello). Lewis’s crazy-impressive cast of collaborators, which includes Ringo Starr, Don Was, Benmont Tench (one of Petty’s Heartbreakers), and Beck, is testament to her songwriting chops and nuanced (and gorgeous) vocal delivery. One moment, we’re bopping along, nestled within sweetly-insouciant pop that she delivers with a hint of a smirk, eyes shining behind those pink bejeweled sunglasses. The next, she’s knocked us back on our heels with old-school soulful melodies set over old-timey piano arrangements.
I’m thinking in particular of “Taffy.” The plastic Christmas tree in a run-down motel feels like something out of an ill-advised romance, and what millennial doesn’t relate to some version of this scene: I looked through your phone … I am such a coward, how could you send her flowers? And then the kicker — despite the perfidy of our narrator’s lover, she sends those nude selfies anyways: I do not regret it, I knew that you were gone … I did so freely, I wanted you to see me off that throne you put me on. These words cut deep, and are all the more devastating because they’re delivered in honey-hued vocals and the dreamiest swell of strings.
Lewis’s opening set was a full hour, and deservedly so, as she headlines similarly-sized venues. Her setlist drew mostly from On the Line, released earlier this year, and included “Silver Lining,” a Rilo Kiley song (Lewis’s art-pop band). Gliding onto stage in a shimmery ensemble (“this dress controls me,” she later quipped about the mermaid gown), Lewis held up a tennis ball — a nod to the venue’s history. (The “lucky tennis ball” went home with a lucky fan.) Lewis and band, including Emily Elbert and Dylan Day on guitars, Solomon Dorsey on bass, Jason Boesel on drums, as well as a violinist and cellist — opened with “Heads Gonna Roll,” a slowed-down country dance around the push and pull of an ill-matched couple, with the self-rescuing princess declaring that it’s better we stay friends ‘cos after all is said and done, we’ll all be skulls. On the album, the warm distortion of the Hammond B3 bridges the divides that the characters, who argued over everything from Elliott Smith to grenadine, cannot.
Lewis’s charisma — she reminded me simultaneously of Loretta Lynn and Jessica Rabbit (a friend told me, “I can’t decide if I want to be her or marry her”) — will hook you on first encounter. But what reels you in is the apparent care with which she approaches the granular details, both realistic and absurdist, and the splashes of psychedelic color in the folky, funky, and blue-eyed soul aesthetic. For instance, I’ve not heard a pharmaceutical line as delightful as the one she croons in “Do Si Do” (you ain’t no pharaoh, get back on your Paxil) since Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” (MDMA got you feelin’ like a champion, the city never sleeps, better slip you an Ambien).
The pink tambourine, pink mics, and flower-embellished guitar and Wurli, might risk appearing precious, but Lewis owns it all — she’s seen enough to deliver some clear-eyed wisdom and remains sassy enough to keep us hopeful that the next girl-meets-boy storyline might end a bit better…”