Kim Lenz and the Jaguars
It’s All True
Bettie Page once said, “I was never the girl next door.” The same can be said of guitar-strumming, tune-belting Kim Lenz. The brazen, crimson-coifed chanteuse unyieldingly channels the untamable spirit of Elvis Presley while evoking nostalgic images of the iconic Bettie Page (if she could sing) on her most recent release It’s All True. One listen, and you may find yourself dressed in bobby socks and leather jacket, waving a checkered flag to kick off the next muscle-car drag race (at least I did)… No matter what, each expertly crafted song is guaranteed to leave you toe tapping, or just pressing down hard on the accelerator.
If it’s sultry you’re looking for, Kim brings it with a vengeance on each of her 12 revved-up rockabilly ditties. The song “Touch Me,” (a direct order if there ever was one) kicks off the album with upbeat instrumentals and dramatic vocals. From that moment on, Kim and the Jaguars quickly set the tone for the rest of the album, infusing each song with driving beats and memorable melodies reminiscent of another bygone era, the difference being such songs would probably have been performed by only male singers back then. But make no mistake, this ain’t be-bop, it’s full-throttle rock n’roll, the same hip-shakin’ feel good music that got Elvis Presley filmed only from the waist up.
From “Touch Me,” Kim moves on to “That’s the Breaks,” with lyrics relaying the bad choices of a wishy-washy two-timer, following up with “Zombie For Your Love,” a tune that goes full-tilt into the 1950s as evident in the slang, and conjures campy images of popular B-movie monsters. “Ramblin’ Feeling” is a soundtrack for hitting the road and not looking back, and the sexy siren jazz-tinged “I’ll Tell You When” has a bassline that makes you want to wear a fedora hat in the middle of summer.
Kim Lenz grew up in San Diego, moved to TX in 1994 and started the band in 1996. Other albums include Kim Lenz and Her Jaguars (1998), Kim Lenz and the Jaguars: The One and Only (1999), and Kim Lenz: Up to My Old Tricks Again (2005). It’s All True (2009), the first to be produced under her own label, Riley Records, features guitarist Nick Curran, bassist Jake Erwin, and drummer Scotty Tecce with vocal contribution by Big Sandy, of Big Sandy and His Fly Rite Boys fame. Heavily influenced by husky voiced songstresses such as Wanda Jackson and Barbara Pittman, Kim admitted in an early interview to having an obsession with the era:
“In the ’50s, especially the mid- to late ’50s, there was a sense of hope in America. I mean, it’s like, there was all that rocket-age stuff. People thought we were gonna be living on the moon in 20 years, ya know?”
Whether it’s the 1950s or 2009, every note of It’s All True leaves you somewhat wistful for those long-departed days of hope (without the undercurrent of oppression that, for many, also helped to define that simple era). Luckily for her, each note and husky wail by Kim Lenz is guaranteed to leave the listener forgetting reality and humming along to her tunes in a better mood.
Kim Lenz: www.kimlenz.com