I was so disappointed with both the music on the last Rilo Kiley album and with Jenny Lewis’ sex-kitten cavorting which accompanied the PR effort that I ended up developing a real dislike of the band. This is possibly due to me being a bit of dick I suppose, rather than any fault of the band, but I really didn’t like the actual tunes much either so the results would have been much the same I guess.
Anyhow this album, recorded by Jenny Lewis and her fella Johnathan Rice, seems to straddle the pop instincts of Rilo Kiley and the soulful gospel-folk of Lewis’ solo work. Unfortunately, I don’t actually know enough about Rice’s own work to give you an idea where it might sit as far as a fan of his music would be concerned. In general though, as will surprise precisely no readers of this site, I tend more towards Jenny Lewis than I do to Rilo Kiley, and this fact is pretty much all you need to know to predict my reaction to this record.
Generally, when they go upbeat and get into their boy-girl, borderline doo-wop pop tunes then I kind of tune out. Not that it’s no good or anything, just that I don’t find it at all emotionally engaging, so for all it’s pleasant enough my attention tends to drift.
Given that they are bumping uglies and are both successful musicians in their own right, I guess I am not surprised that there is a little more blissed out dreaminess to this album than any real sense of driven artistic adventure, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad record. There are some cracking moments on this, notably opener Little Fly, and songs like As a Sprout and Wild is the Wind.
Overall I think there are far too many indifferent, middle of the road efforts like Winter Sun for me to ever end up forming a deep or particularly lasting bond with the album as a whole, but it’s an enjoyable listen with some great moments. In fact, it’s an album which feels like it was conceived on a lazy, contented Sunday afternoon, even down to the cover art, and that is probably the best way to listen to it as well.