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Friday, Aug. 7, 2009
The line between alt-country and just plain country music can be a thin one. And while Jenny Lewis' vocal and guitar duties in ice-cool Las Vegas indie band Rilo Kiley might cause her to be labeled the former, there's really very little difference between the aching sentiment of her two recent solo albums and that of country icons such as Hank Williams or Emmylou Harris.
Lewis' acoustic-guitar-based songs are tender and heartwarming, but come with a sense of drama no doubt honed by her childhood acting career (in U.S. TV sitcoms including "Life With Lucy" and "Rosanne" as well as opposite Fred Savage in 1989's feature-length Nintendo advertisement "The Wizard"). But the showstopper is her voice — dripping with emotion, it is full and warm, speaking of a bottomless melancholy that is sweetly seductive.
Lewis' sense of spectacle translates to her high-energy live shows, where she and her band entertain in true country fashion. Dates on her current tour have included a mix of songs from 2006's "Rabbit Fur Coat" and last year's "Acid Tongue," all performed with an electrifying energy that will surely make this week's Japan appearances a treat. Her outdoor sets at Summer Sonic's Chiba and Osaka events will be followed by a headline show at Harajuku Astro Hall in Tokyo, a relatively intimate venue that should allow for a fitting atmosphere as Lewis walks the line.
Jenny Lewis plays Aug. 7 and 8 at Summer Sonic festival (Aug. 7 at 3:45 p.m. on the Beach Stage in Chiba; Aug. 8 at 2:35 p.m. on the Park Stage in Osaka). For tickets and venue info, see www.summersonic.com. Lewis also plays at 6 p.m. on Aug. 10 at Harajuku Astro Hall in Tokyo. Tickets cost ¥4,500.