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Jenny Lewis – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 9, 2009

June 10th, 2009

Jenny Lewis - Music Hall of Williamsburg - June 9, 2009
Opening for Jenny Lewis last night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Deer Tick plowed through a rollicking set of their roots-y, country-inflected rock. Though their sound may pull from a variety of retro sources, the four-piece remind us they have a foot planted firmly in the present by throwing in a nice John Mellencamp cover toward the end of their set. Though perhaps a little dated, there’s really nothing old-timey about the man who wrote “Jack and Diane.”

After strapping on her guitar, Jenny Lewis gave a small curtsy before beginning to play. Much like Deer Tick, Lewis’s songs pull from traditional musical styles—soul, gospel and country—but just when you think you’ve got her pegged as a throwback, one of her lyrics will catch your ear and stand out as the sentiments of an unmistakably contemporary woman. (This emerged most notably on the new song “Just Like Zeus,” a barbed evisceration of Hollywood’s young and vacant starlets.) As Lewis’s expressive voice wove through songs from her solo albums, Acid Tongue and Rabbit Fur Coat, her proficient backing band added harmonica and pedal-steel flourishes.

Before performing “Trying My Best to Love You” with her two female bandmates singing backup, Lewis explained that it was a gospel number and jokingly commented that it was “kind of weird” because all three singers are Jews. The rendition that followed was lovely and soulful. Her music may evoke the past, but as those three modern voices came together in that gospel number, it sounded current. It was a perfect example of Jenny Lewis’s fresh take on deep-rooted music. —Alena Kastin

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | www.gregggreenwood.com