Rabbit Fur Coat is the first solo album by Jenny Lewis, the former child actress who also fronts indie darlings Rilo Kiley. Taking a break from her aforementioned band, Lewis has crafted a pop album full of alt-country leanings with the help of the Watson Twins. The album is co-produced by M. Ward and Mike Mogis (stalwarts within the Omaha/Saddle Creek records family) and features a wide variety of guest musicians including Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, James Valentine of Maroon 5, and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie.
Upon first listen, Rabbit Fur Coat is not a shocking departure from what Lewis does with her full time band. Repeated listens show that the album has a slower, more traditional country approach than the Rilo Kiley sound as evidenced by "Run Devil Run," "Happy," and "Rabbit Fur Coat." There are some more upbeat songs such as "Big Guns" and the interesting cover of the Traveling Wilburys' song "Handle with Care." "Rabbit Fur Coat" is a good song. It has a similar storytelling feel to Rilo Kiley songs "A Man/Me/Then Jim" and "Does He Love You" (both off More Adventurous). The track has a narrative that is tinged with both the humor and regret of a wearied old soul. "Big Guns" is chock full of straight up country stylings.
Still, "Handle with Care" might just be the gem of this album. It is a fun song and a left field choice for a song on the album. The Traveling Wilburys were a supergroup from the 1980's (featuring Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, and others) that are often overlooked today. Lewis and company do a good version, not as good as the original, but still and admirable job. It brings a nostalgic kick to anyone who knew the Wilburys.
Lewis does a decent job with her first solo album. Rabbit Fur Coat is definitely not the product of some ego driven vanity project. It sits well when viewed along with the rest of the body of Rilo Kiley's work. Any fan of her regular band job should enjoy this album.
6.5 / 10
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