x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Jeffrey Lewis & the Junkyard: 'Em Are I

The singer-songwriter-cum-cartoon-artist Jeffrey Lewis's surreal observations of everyday life set to simple, plink-plonk melodies have given him the tag of "antifolk icon" among New York's alternative music scene.

AD200910705269960AR
AD200910705269960AR

The singer-songwriter-cum-cartoon-artist Jeffrey Lewis's surreal observations of everyday life set to simple, plink-plonk melodies have given him the tag of "antifolk icon" among New York's alternative music scene. 'Em Are I is the latest in a run of albums with wordy, reflective titles like I am, of course, Glad; Don't Let the Record Label Take You Out to Lunch and It's the Ones Who've Cracked that the Light Shines Through. For Lewis, it is all about the lyrics, to the point where the music seems to play second fiddle. This time is no different - except for that fact that now he is suffering from heartbreak following a relationship with a band-member which went awry. And perhaps that, combined with his release in 2007 of a set of songs by the British anarchist punk band Crass, is what has booted him into more experimental territory. Of course, there is still plenty of plinking - Roll Bus Roll is a sweet, chuntering ode to that most glamorous of transport modes, in which he meditates about how and where to sleep: "a rolled sweatshirt makes the window soft," he sings. And To Be Objectified sees him musing about the causes of his receding hairline with witty, unfussy results. But in among the existential angst has been added a mix of musical styles including country, punk and the odd bit of instrumentation. And the album is all the better for it. "It's hard to get too bored if you pick the right two chords," he thrums in If Life Exists (?). Bored by the chords? Not this time.