Acid Tongue, the second solo album released by Jenny Lewis, explores many different musical flavors, including classic, twangy country on the Elvis Costello duet “Carpetbaggers,” and the soulful jazzy ballad “Trying My Best to Love You.” Occasionally Lewis’ head-voice soprano sounds forced, such as on “Black Sand,” in comparison to the relaxed and natural chest voice found on many other tracks. Fortunately, she is able to produce a clear tone that many other female singers lack.
On the title track, Lewis creates the perfect blend between the two vocal techniques of the ethereal, high head-voice and the forceful, assertive chest-voice, using them to their ultimate, heart-wrenching capabilities. The instrumentation is sparse; only a strumming guitar and backup vocals in the chorus fill the track out, which allows Lewis’ captivating voice to take center stage.
With a strong Motown sound, “Jack Killed Mom” builds until, after one false ending, it comes back as strong as a frantic hand-clapping revival celebration, a contrast to the titular lyric being celebrated. Lewis practically purrs the story, but at the end gives way to a throaty growl, proving that she doesn’t have to be all peaches and cream all of the time.
Lewis may not be able to hold notes for days or push herself to the outer limits with either her vocal range or lyric-writing, but her pitch is perfect, never creating that sense of uneasiness that comes with listening to a less-talented vocalist. There is no question that Jenny Lewis will hit every note and break your heart along the way.