Friday, September 12, 2014

Jenny Lewis and Her Rainbow Suit

I'm no style maven - in fact, I don't care much for fashion at all, as my prodigious collection of tatty old band T-shirts will testify. And yet here I am, on the cusp of writing an entire blog post about a multi-coloured suit.

The Voyager is the new album from Jenny Lewis, and as much as I've been enjoying the music, it's the cover that's really captured my imagination. Where did this snazzy suit come from? What is it supposed to represent? Surely it must be somewhat meaningful - artists don't just slap any old pictures on their music, do they?


It's worth pointing out that The Rainbow Suit is more than just an album cover - Lewis is wearing it (or one just like it) in all of the promotional photography for The Voyager as well. It's quite clearly a very big part of these songs, but pinpointing the significance of that multi-hued ensemble is kind of difficult to do.

Still, we can always guess! I came up with a few theories about The Rainbow Suit and its significance; at first I thought that it might be symbolic of JL' s childhood, its distinctly My Little Pony-esque colour scheme providing a sharp antithesis to the album's numerous drug references and infidelities.

Also, there's a song with a threesome in it.

In a more cynical moment, I also wondered if The Suit might be nothing more than a colourful marketing gimmick, but having done a bit of research, I've settled on a far more satisfying explanation: it's a Gram Parsons reference.

See, Gram was a high-profile proponent of the nudie suit, and Jenny's eye-catching outfit seems to be a 21st century update of the classic Gram look. But aside from being a cool nod to a country music hero, this little fashion nugget is a pretty neat summation of The Voyager's sound: these songs are informed by old-fashioned country music and radio-friendly hits from the '70s, but Jenny Lewis has given them a contemporary, day-glo sheen in the form of a shiny, Haim-esque sound and the aforementioned druggy lyrics.

It's good, actually - I was a big fan of Rabbit Fur Coat, the country album that JL recorded with The Watson Twins, and I was worried that she would abandon that cool country sound for The Voyager. But no, it's in there, mingling with the kind of music that she made as part of Rilo Kiley.

To marvellous results.

If you want to read a proper article about The Rainbow Suit, try Vogue's website.

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