Pop CDs: Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins

Pop CDs: Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins | Clap Your Hands Say Yeah | Richard Ashcroft | Jens Lekman

Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins Rabbit Fur Coat (Rough Trade) £11.99

In certain circles Jenny Lewis is already something of a star. The rock band she fronts, Rilo Kiley, has opened for Coldplay in the US, but here in the UK they are still a minority interest. Lewis could well eclipse her band: Rabbit Fur Coat, her low-key solo album, is just sensational. A country rock record rammed with wry wit and an undercurrent of damaged faith, it alternates between engaging confessionals, and songs displaying her easy flair for storytelling. Her limpid voice is buoyed by the gospel-tinged backing vocals of Chandra and Leigh Watson. This record is not just indie good, either - 'Happy' and 'Rise Up With Fists' wouldn't sound out of place on Radio 2. A superlative debut. KE

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (Wichita) £11.99

This Brooklyn band sold the first 25,000 copies of their debut from their front rooms. It's hugely -accomplished but composed entirely of home-recorded demos. Chief songwriter Alec Ounsworth sings, in a drowsy mumble you could mistake for David Byrne, over hypnotic layers of jangly guitars. The effect is beguiling in the extreme. Recent single 'Is This Love?' and 'The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth' stand out, but there is a bubble-like quality to this album that means it's best listened to from start to end. LH

Richard Ashcroft Keys to the World (Parlophone) £12.99

Perhaps mindful of the winning combination of easy-on-the-ear balladry and self-help homily that has helped Robbie Williams and Coldplay sell millions, Richard Ashcroft's third album sounds like a computer-aided synthesis of the two: smooth, strings-drenched, lyrically 'searching' - yep, life is hard, you're not wrong there - but only occasionally truly stirring. Looked at another way, of course, you could argue that neither Coldplay nor Robbie would have a career if it hadn't been for Urban Hymns, Ashcroft's era-defining last album with the Verve. But despite a highlight in the funky 'Music Is Power', all this record proves is that he's yet to write a worthy successor. LH

Jens Lekman Oh You're So Silent, Jens (Secretly Canadian) £11.99

Tired of crying into his grog, Gothenburger Jens Lekman put his recollections of a lifetime's romantic travails on to tape, resulting in an album that could have been as drippy as a Westlife cover version but, thanks to his deadpan baritone and a lyrical flair to match Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch, is endlessly rewarding. His problems with the ladies may be manifold - he can't say what he means (the beautiful, Saint Etienne-like 'Maple Leaves'), he dreads dying alone ('Someone to Share My Life With'), he thinks about them in taxis ('Black Cab') - but Lekman has a knack of making musical and lyrical gold out of mishaps that would sound direly overtrodden in anyone else's hands. LH


Kitty Empire and Lynsey Hanley

The GuardianTramp

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