Kim Lenz and The Jaguars | It’s All True!
Most Likely To: rock this town, rock it inside out.
Kim Lenz has picked a good time to return. Rockabilly has always sounded best in the summer heat, rarely while snowed in on Interstate 70. It’s been ten years since Kim last appeared on the scene, but she roars back here with her Jaguars for the self-produced, self-released It’s All True! While a better legend would have Kim being the daughter of a daddy who was a preacher and momma was a go-go girl, the truth is her mom was a rodeo queen.
Growing up, she idolized the women she most often gets compared to: Wanda Jackson and Janis Martin. It’s kind of surprising more women aren’t tearing it up ’50s style, but Lenz’ body of work might change that pretty soon. That is if we can stop dressing our prepubescent daughters up like pop-sluts who exist on auto-tune and whorish make-up. (Once they turn 18, though, I wholeheartedly encourage that look.)
Kim can talk the talk, which is key in rockabilly. She knows when to scream, when to go to a guttural howl, when to sound like a chanteuse. When a ballad like “I Break a Heart Every Night” comes along, Lenz’s voice is plaintive, wandering to the high notes at just the right places. The song wouldn’t feel out of place at Marty McFly’s parents’ dance. For added realism, she used drummer Scotty Tecce’s doo wop outfit Fabulous Harmonaries to back her up. Her sirenlike delivery covers the choppy beats and fat guitar of the opening “Touch Me,” while “Ramblin’ Feeling” bears a resemblance to the old “Move It On Over.”
Lenz ‘songs are dotted with authentic ’50s lingo. For example, people never leave, they “move on down the line.” You don’t have a pimped out car, you have a “souped up hot rod.” This is the realm of living a honky tonk life with the devil in your eyes, racing from city limits. Don’t be a square living in Nowheresville, Daddy-o.
Appropriately, much of It’s All True! sounds like it could easily have been recorded 50 years ago. It’s the kind of music that was on in the Chevy when my grandmother was playing backseat bingo. Vintage instruments were used throughout and reverb is all over the guitars. Lenz deftly trades verses with Big Sandy on “He’s All Mine.” Guitarist Nick Curran is all fat city, cats. It’s a compliment that the two covers seamlessly blend in with the rest of the originals. Like her previous albums, the cover art is also retro-inspired.
In the end, It’s All True! is a good slab of crisp rockabilly that acts as a good introduction to an under-appreciated genre.