Don’t be fooled by his sloppy slacker style and laconic manner. Jeffrey Lewis is a wordy powerhouse with a prolific output as a singer-songwriter, musical collaborator, comic artist, illustrator, lecturer and multimedia artist.
A rich collection of croaky-voiced short stories couched in vintage CBGB clatter-rock, his seventh album for Rough Trade is a classic New York record in both style and setting. From its linear guitar strums to its deadpan big-city wit and engaging detours into Yiddish-influenced poetry, Manhattan could almost be a Lou Reed album scripted by Woody Allen.
Support Tours and Have A Baby are both darkly funny gems, sarcastically skewering the grubby economic realities of indie rock and the trivial lifestyle niggles that obsess people before the heavy boot of parenthood kicks their ass.
But Lewis also has a strong romantic streak, paying surprisingly warm tribute to a Lower East Side bully who terrorized his youth on Scowling Crackhead Ian, and comically describing a man going to pieces while his girlfriend is away on the jittery Outta Town. He then forensically details the creeping dread of an imminent relationship break-up on the deceptively drowsy Back To Manhattan: ‘You liked me this morning, by midnight you’ll hate me.’ A droll, tender-hearted and richly rewarding album.