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Jenny Lewis Channels Donna Summer in Live Video

Jenny Lewis has a new album out and is making the publicity rounds.

Combining her promotional effort with a charitable one she recently recorded a live session consisting mostly of tracks from her new record, The Voyager, for Los Angeles public radio station KCRW. PopMatters was invited to the event which was held at legendary music producer Bob Clearmountain’s (The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen) studio in Santa Monica.

Wearing a tie-died white suit and matching guitar, Lewis sang songs that could have been the soundtrack to a Brett Easton Ellis novel; songs that make oblique references to hardcore drug use and lovers who never quite act right, sometimes psychotically so. Very Los Angeles, but also very good.

Jenny Lewis is the ex-child actor that it’s impossible to hate. Her music stands on its own and the darkness she hints at not only gives her soul but usually seems genuine. This performance shows that she could easily be leading the best disco or soul-era band from the ’70s, but is instead standing in front of a bunch of indie rockers. This isn’t all bad but her talent so outshines her band that it’s a pity she hasn’t been matched with personnel more in tune with her prodigious talent, which seems to be equal parts Patsy Cline and Donna Summer.

In this new age of ubiquitous and constant access to free content it’s hard to make the pitch to watch more online video, but if you’re a Jenny Lewis fan this is probably worth your time, and if you’re not it’s a good introduction to a superb performer.

The taped session will be broadcast Monday, November 3rd at about 11am on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic music program. For those not in Los Angeles go to KCRW’s website for the livestream.

Session archives can be found here.

PopMatters