The release of Jenny Lewis' wondrous solo debut Rabbit Fur Coat two years ago caused some friction amongst the members of her indie rock band Rilo Kiley. Their intervening album was lacklustre at best, and current interviews do more than hint at the possibility of their sun having set for the foreseeable future. Here, in contrast, we see Jenny Lewis still in the ascendant, though without quite the hyperbolic trajectory of that initial outing.Were it not for the absence of the cooing Watson Twins this time around, some songs might have been lifted straight out of the earlier sessions. Lead single 'Acid Tongue' gives the impression of a linear progression in similar vein, and 'Jack Killed Mom' with its White Stripes style lumbering raunch and fireworks finale was a live highlight from her initial touring two years ago. But elsewhere roads trail off in several directions, with that fluffy folksy fur coat being given a splattering of indie grime when leading halfway back to Rilo Kiley, or all glammed up with strings for a gospel diva feel on 'Trying My Best to Love You'.But to begin at the beginning, there was some initial foreboding involved in my encounter with 'Black Sand'. Lewis pushes her voice beyond its comfort zone. I can't quite bring myself to call it squawking - I'll settle for strained, but it's a track that is skipped more often than not. The repeated refrain of the titular chorus grates. However, immediately following is the dirty/sweet sound of 'Pretty Bird' - where Lewis sinks back into the more familiar role of the damaged femme fatale with the faltering vocals. You can almost see the smudged mascara that matches the blurry electric guitar of this atmospheric number, which comes courtesy of M. Ward. It's downbeat, but the vibrant sound is characteristic of the album, and no doubt one by product of the creative rush of its just three weeks of recording. This crisp, heavy on the percussion, zip continues on 'The Next Messiah' - a three part medley of almost nine minutes that was recorded as one without splicing. Lewis' boyfriend Johnathan Rice features in the best segment - which sounds like a completely separate affair, with the transition back to the final "Next Messiah" reprise seemingly unnecessary.Lewis had rounded up plenty of other friends those three weeks - She And Him's M. Ward (as already mentioned) and Zooey Deschanel, Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes fame, and Elvis Costello returns the favour of Jenny featuring on his new one Momofuku – where apparently the zest of these sessions has inspired him to return to an earliest ‘with the Attractions’ sound. Those for whom the very mention of her name is a cue for swooning as per a female version of Mr. Darcy beware: 'Bad Man's World' will start the palpitations. Lewis is a delicate bruised flower and the words sigh plaintively from her lips: "I'm a bad, bad girl". I'll leave you to pause with that thought for a moment gentlemen as the forceful violins swoop behind her.The acoustic guitar accompanied 'Acid Tongue' is plain fantastic and as stated, continues her gift for modern storytelling Americana. It also marks a stepping up in the impact of the lyrics – something slacking in the first half that gets corrected from this point on. Her male helpers replace the backing vocals that The Watson Twins would have covered. 'See Fernando' has a similar meter and 'Mr Fixit' theme to The Beatles's 'Dr. Robert', but from its clickedy-clack drumstick opening is more pulsing psycho-billy than psychedelic. Nice grizzly slide guitar too. It's too early for the big finale, but piano ballad 'Godspeed' has that swelling sense of emotion on a sad departure. It's delivered in subdued style though to deflate any possible pomposity. 'Carpetbaggers' shocks us out of that morose trough, with a gigantic additional kick up the arse provided by Mr. Costello at his wailing best. Galloping and joyous - it is the highlight of the album and would make an obvious single.'Trying My Best to Love You' seems too formal for her wistful sensibilities and drags despite its rich warm tone. Her voice best conveys emotion by bare frailty rather than attempts at powerful conviction. Lewis examines the Oedipus complex in the darkly warped 'Jack Killed Mom' storyline, and appropriately for that family theme her Dad pops up with a few puffs on the bass harmonica (he was in some kind of cabaret lounge novelty act with same years ago and her sister also sings harmony on a couple of tracks). The thunderous last minute and a half finds Lewis hollering like a bare-footed hillbilly. Trust me – live it is a treat. The real finale comes with sad anthem for the under classes: 'Sing a Song for Them'. Although suffering in the same way as ‘Trying My Best to Love You' by taking a more conventional approach, its lyrics are more evocative and it sidesteps becoming a power-ballad – especially the neat clipped ending.There are a couple of real lows here, but the highs are so good that this album still shines – and the criticism elsewhere is given knowing that the target is robust enough to take it. Overall it may not have the impact of her debut, which benefited from a complete lack of prior expectations; and it does not have that album’s consistency of sound, but Acid Tongue is a definite keeper and Lewis’s new musical journeys away from base are encouraging for the future.79%Jenny Lewis on MySpaceJenny Lewis Official Site