Jenny & Johnny Jenny & JohnnyI'm Having Fun Now
The magnetically charming –and ex Rilo Kiley– Jenny Lewis has come together musically, as well as sentimentally, with her current boyfriend Jonathan “Johnny” Rice to create Jenny & Johnny. “I’m Having Fun Now” is their first work together and, for people who know even the smallest thing about the career of this pop muse with slightly country touch, and who know what Rice is capable of (which is not too much), both the name of the group and the title of the album will give you all the clues you need to file it away in the “predictable” category. So you shouldn’t expect great songs. Neither from the dramas that Lewis could put together with her voice, nor from the (almost) rock that can come out of Rice (only visible here in “Committed”, and not much more). It is true, though: the album gives off an air of happiness, of fun that is born privately and exposed publicly in these eleven cuts that, frankly, at least seem sincere. And people pay for sincerity with pleasure.
Some people might not be into the sound and adolescent feeling of songs like “Scissor Runner”, which is present almost throughout the record, but it was necessary for them to distance themselves from their earlier references (both works like Rilo Kiley and multiple collaborations with other artists on their respective solo albums), passing over, of course, things like the soundtrack to “Bolt”. The thing is that Jenny Lewis, who is still very young, has always let somebody else accompany her (another example: The Watson Twins) and looking back, it looks like she has stage fright, at least in the recording studio. With Rice, Lewis doesn’t manage to tie up her lyrical capacity, nor her performance, nor the styles that she plays with. It’s more to the contrary, the symbiosis benefits Rice. And a better Rice, who only takes a starring vocal role in “Animal” (a song that would be appropriate for people like Jakob Dylan), doesn’t really end up being convincing either.
The crumbs are spread out all over the place mat, and they have to be found in the lullaby (a very Lewis lullaby) of “While Men Are Dreaming”, in the use of echoes in “Slavedriver”, and in the general tone, which like we said is almost adolescent, almost generational, which could well have been used by “ How I Met Your Mother” if they had organised a party at night (listen to “My Pet Snake”, a real kiss on the cheek, even though it’s conventional, in the style of groups like Best Coast or Avi Buffalo). We’re talking about a recurrent, metallic, pleasant, California sound (almost mainstream) present in almost all the songs (and very visible in “Big Wave”), which gives the play that it gives, but no more. And at most an attempt at dream-alt-country, or Rilo Kiley doing a softer Ryan Adams without The Cardinals (in the lovely, effective “Switchblade”). Now the issue is to clarify when Lewis is going to decide to seek a more solid sound, and not be afraid to face the possible cracks and drips on her own, because the best inspiration comes from problems, and from true sadness sprout authentic muses, which would be much more credible than all of the named artists who have collaborated with Lewis in the past and who have divided her in half rather than adding and helping her grow.
Jenny and Johnny - Scissor Runner
Jenny and Johnny - Straight Edge of the Blade