JEFFREY LEWIS plays the Dakota on Saturday (November 12). See listing. Rating: NNNN
Jeffrey Lewis is often accused of using his songs as little more than word delivery systems - melodically sparse springboards for his wry, conceptual lyrics. On his sixth album, the New York anti-folk singer/songwriter takes a step toward silencing the critics, tempering his creaky half-spoken vocals with some surprisingly sophisticated arrangements and harmonies with guests like Dr. Dog and Frances McKee of the Vaselines.
As always, though, Lewis's lyrics are the focal point - clever, cute, funny and heartbreaking (often all at once). How Can It Be tries to apply logic to heartbreak, while So What If I Couldn't Take It paints a suicide attempt as an elaborate farce. Cult Boyfriend might be the quintessential Jeffrey Lewis song, repurposing his cult artist status into romantic terms, all the while name-checking everything from the Misfits to Charles Manson to Meet The Feebles.
Top track: Cult Boyfriend