What can we expect when our favorite artists fall in love and write music together? It didn’t work for Yoko and John, but would it work for Rilo Kiley songstress Jenny Lewis and her beau, Johnathan Rice? Well, I’m Having Fun Now, the first album under the Jenny and Johnny moniker, really sums up the attitude of the duo, as that spirit, at least musically, embodies everything about the album. Honestly, you’ll probably be having a lot of fun as well listening to this record.
When Johnathan Rice‘s voice kicks in on “Scissor Runner,” it’s a warm entry, and you begin to wonder when Jenny will show up. Seconds later she greets her man with her distinguished vocals, sounding a little bit more like the Jenny Lewis of yesteryear. Beginning at this point launches the record in the perfect direction, exhibiting a duo completely comfortable with one another, both in and out of the studio. They even stop to incorporate some of the current California jangle pop with “My Pet Snake,” the first track that really features Jenny. Her voice hasn’t sounded this great and confident in years, which may surprise some, as Rice helped her produce the much lauded Acid Tongue. So far, so good.
“Big Wave” is another one of the record’s great tracks, and it’s one of those tracks that really takes you back. Jenny sounds a lot fresher with her vocal performance, and while many love her country-fied leanings, she can still carry a solid pop tune. It’s not the most incredibly innovative songwriting, but the casualness on display suits the duo perfectly; it’s like they were both born to write I’m Having Fun Now. Even Johnathan sounds great when he takes the lead role, such as on tracks like “Animal.” There’s a hint of devil-may-care in his delivery, yet there is a certain sense of confidence, perhaps from knowing his lover/best friend is by his side, as Lewis really brings her powers to the chorus here.
An edgier Jenny Lewis, who still writes her lyrics in much the same fashion as she always has, is on exhibit with songs like “Straight Edge of the Blade,” transporting listeners back to the days where she seemed so care-free. This is perhaps the best accomplishment of Jenny and Johnny, bringing the best out in each other, supporting each other and uniting in strength. “New York Cartoon,” much like parts of “Scissor Runner,” uses vocals from both parts singing in unison. It’s the perfect accompaniment, and you can clearly see why they’re such a match. These touches of balance and harmony lie in wait for listeners throughout the album.
In conclusion, you couldn’t really ask form more from the two songwriters here. There’s hints of both their passion in these songs, sometimes edgy, sometimes mellow and warm. Perhaps you won’t find the music the most innovative out there, but occasionally its those groups who clearly know each other so well that they bring the best out of one another that really hit home for us. Jenny and Johnny have shown us just that with their organization of I’m Having Fun Now; the record shows the two having fun playing together, which leads to fun for us. The ball is in your court Ben and Zooey.
Download: Jenny and Johnny – Scissor Runner [MP3]