Collaborations consisting of big-name musicians often gather the most hype, but collaborations that fly below the radar can trump the hype. Jenny Lewis, the vocalist for rock band Rilo Kiley teamed up with boyfriend and singer/songwriter Johnathan Rice (Rice also produced Lewis’ solo album “Acid Tongue” in 2008) to create Jenny and Johnny. The duo offered up many songs exploring the male-female dichotomy on the album “I’m Having Fun Now,” but none as good as the track “Straight Edge of The Blade.”
The song illustrates the perspective of a woman waiting for a guy to come around and come onto her. The problem is said guy is also a follower of the “straight-edge” lifestyle, which denounces alcohol, drugs and loose sex among other things. The latter is the narrator’s problem.
Lewis hints at the man’s lifestyle (“Since you don’t drink, you should be driving me around. As you know, I’m an angel behind the wheel”) and asserts his bro-mantic tendencies (I’ve never seen love that was greater, between two men that couldn’t be straighter”). Lewis’ voice sounds as dryly sarcastic as ever, so the song seems to be mocking the desired instead of pining. But Rice joins in during the refrain and Lewis sounds more earnest. “Straight edge of the blade, how long will I wait?”
The instrumentation is a minimal affair consisting of Rice’s guitar and low-key drumming. This allows the listeners to center their attention on Lewis’ captivating voice and the excellent melody carried by both vocalists during the refrain.
The song is a great example of less being more. The typical instruments are present, but Lewis and Rice don’t rely on excessive studio tricks to make the track successful. The story related by Lewis is hopefully not true, so that listeners can hear more from the duo in the future.