Occasionally, articles slip through the cracks, or there just isn’t room for them in the print edition. This is one such case. Check out Kaitlin Valli’s article, railing against the phoniness of faux-alt-country ingenue Jenny Lewis. Check out Lewis’ website and decide for yourself.
Why I Don’t Trust Jenny Lewis
by KAITLIN VALLI
I don’t trust Jenny Lewis.
I was introduced to the concept of Jenny Lewis some time last year, when my friend Scott was getting into Rilo Kiley.
“I should download some of their stuff,” he said.
I didn’t mind the Rilo Kiley I had downloaded, and decided to take it to the next step: solo albums. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins had been getting some good reviews, and when I played the album I could see why.
Jenny Lewis has a sweet voice, and her songs were catchy, in a cutesy, folksy kind of way. And, yes, I guess I could have called it “soulful,” like every single music critic was doing during early 2006.
It was all fine, until one day, as I listened to her, it suddenly hit me: None of what she’s saying could possibly be genuine.
It’s all an act, from her lyrics to the twangy guitar and her sad eyes. My male friends had always commented upon how innocent she looked, how sweet. But, I thought, how can that be true? She’s like, thirty two. She’s from Los Angeles. But that was not the worst part of her façade—it was the real meaning of her music.
Her entire album is a parody of old-time country singers, and since no one in that hipster segment Jenny Lewis belongs to had ever really heard anything like it, she stands out for being so different, and therefore, cool.
The problem with Jenny Lewis is that most people tend to believe in the totally constructed image of her—the shy, sweet, earnest redhead with a broken heart. Do we think she’s not completely aware of her own construction?
She’s completely post-modern, but not in a good way. Her music is catchy and sweet, and could mean something to someone, but it can’t mean anything to anyone. If you believe her music, then you believe in a totally false creation.
Modern country music has never been cool, but there’s something about Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash that makes it okay for everyone to listen to them, even if they’re totally not relatable today—they’re classic, so it’s cool to admit liking them. There are no hints of modern country in Jenny Lewis’ album. It’s one hundred percent out of 1950s Tennessee and there’s no real relating to it. She knows she’s made an album that hipster kids can like, because it’s thoroughly disingenuous.
Never is this more evident than in her music video for her single “Rise Up With Fists!!!” The video is comprised of Jenny Lewis and the Watson twins in gaudy outfits, performing on a campy variety show. The song she’s singing is in the style of the artists she’s blatantly mocking. And there’s the proof: as soon as she decided to take a song that could—and should—have been a touching statement on the cheapness of the modern culture of relationships and set it in a music video that clearly mocks it, she completely discredits herself. That, or she just played an elaborate joke simply to mock a genre of music that once meant quite a lot to people.
Either way, Jenny Lewis is not to be trusted.