Jeffrey Lewis, for the unacquainted, is another strange anti-folk hero from New York, who thrives on shyness and delivers twisted nursery rhymes for our merriment. The ponytailed one draws comic (s)trips, sings with a flimsy cracked voice, and strums away delicately throwing us rhyming couplets of mirth, moments of startling insight, and random images from the recesses of his hugely imaginative and ever so slightly diseased mind. 'It's The Ones Who've Cracked That The Light Shines Through' is the kind of record that inspires devotion in many, and makes others cry out phrases like "this isn't music!". Fools.
Lots of the record is just Lewis on his own with his voice and guitar - like opener 'Back When I Was 4' where he reminisces about his life (finishing with "back when I was 128...") and 'Gold' and 'Don't Let The Record Label Take You Out To Lunch' ("you're the one who's got to pay at the end of the day") are cute acoustic numbers that consist of simple, repeated, plucked chords and phrases, him gently elucidating over the top. While his delivery is mild, and his spirit obviously a tender one, and while a lot of the lyrics sound niave and childlike ("You don't have to act crazy to be something amazing / you can be just like you should and still do something really good"), he's by no means a fool.
On 'No LSD Tonight' he attempts for a second time to explain to his audience that he doesn't actually want to do LSD tonight or any other night, though fans still approach him with the words "you're Jeffrey Lewis, you're that guy who likes acid". The sequel to the title track of his last album 'The Last Time I did Acid I Went Insane' should now remedy this. He proves he can be quite cutting, although he's never sarcastic, and the tone is anything but confrontational. He enlists the help of drumming brother Jack, and chum Anders Greffen on about a third of the tracks, and the electric skiffle / shuffle is in stark contrast to his more subdued moments. 'Texas' and in particular 'Graveyard' sound punchy and attacking, and in truth the rest could seem a little feeble in comparison if you forgot to listen to the lyrics or weren't quite in the mood. Fortunately he has numbers in reserve like 'Alphabet', which is stunningly pretty in its bareness, and most of the album here conveys well the peculiar charm he exudes live. Lewis is never going to be all things to all people, but those who do appreciate him will love him that bit more.
Jeremy Allen
reviewed on 16 Jul 2003