CRITICAL MASTURBATION. Journalistic compartmentalizing. It's bullshit—and boring. What we really want—what any music fan reading this wants—is to know what the music sounds like. I don't think I'm alone when I say most music writing is written in an exclusive language for other critics to read and it says a whole lotta nothin' about the music itself.
So, what can we expect from this show, and what does Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis' solo album, Rabbit Fur Coat, sound like? These are all important things, so let's start where important things should start: at the beginning.
In the 1950s, the "Nashville sound" was created to bring country music to pop audiences. This meant taking out the rustic instrumental colloquialisms (i.e., hillbillyisms) and dolling it up with big league production, oily lap steel, and Chet Atkins-y diet-bluegrass guitar. A lot of it was bloodless crap, but some was beautifully articulated and hit the charts like a giant, iron mastodon.
Then came its citified sister "countrypolitan," a sound which included gospel and strings then cannonballed itself into pop radio's beautiful heated swimming pool.
This is where Rabbit lives: soaring vocals balanced with gospel backups and kept honest by good ol' fashioned Les Paul/Atkins guitar.
Most tracks could make rock radio, but country FM is too caught up in silly ephemeralities and topical/novelty songwriting to care much for this. (A world where "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" spins eternally doesn't have room for earnest love songs from some midgety, tangerine-headed indierocker.)
Overall, Rabbit is a great record. It's catchy and full of clean, echoey vocals dissertating sex, gross Americaness, and spiritual crisis. It may not be raw or polished enough to sell to either demographic, but when did we ever care about that? Leave the fiscal speculation to Billboard; our deal's the music, the only thing that means jackshit in this murky swamp of inessentials.