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Keep Houston Press Free
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Patty Griffin and Jenny Lewis: Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Fire

Jenny Lewis (Mark C. Austin)

Blondes have more fun. Brunettes can read. Redheads, they sing. Friday afternoon of ACL saw two such enflamed songbirds. Sunday will feature two more, but until then...

Local chanteuse Patty Griffin whipped up the fest's first recorded breeze with opener "Heavenly Day," from last year's Children Running Through. It was a gentle ode to the relenting temp. It emanated from the five-piece huddled in a small circle. Two acoustic guitars. An accordion. An upright bass. Traps of modest size graced with jazz brushes. They were straight-up busking.

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Griffin time-warped with a cover of Lefty Frizzell's "I Want to Be With You Always." Next up, gospel by way of "Waiting for My Child," a song she said she learned singing it with one of her heroes, Mavis Staples. The set was slow and snoozy but so authentic-sounding -- and Griffin's voice so righteously soulful -- that appreciation for it was mandatory.

Appreciation for Jenny Lewis, however, was less earned and more built-in. Not because of her new album, Acid Tongue, but because of her track record as frontwoman for Rilo Kiley. The break-up she had with that band's guitarist, Blake Sennett, must have been even nastier than the album Under the Blacklight indicated. Because why would Lewis feel the need to get an entirely new band -- vs. just her and a guitar onstage -- for a so-called solo performance? And play the same sort of crossover pop as Rilo Kiley?

This is just a hunch, but the intense clamoring for Lewis leads Rocks Off to believe she's become bigger than Rilo Kiley, and that Rilo Kiley may well be toast. --Michael Hoinski

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