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Rilo Kiley's Singer Steps Out With a Wilbury Twist

Jenny Lewis makes a name for herself, again.
Jenny Lewis makes a name for herself, again.

Jenny Lewis traffics in spiky pop and sad country music as leader of Rilo Kiley, and she left a memorable impression as a backing vocalist on "Give Up," the hit debut of electronic duo The Postal Service. Both bands showcase Lewis's flair for bold but relatable confessionals, and Rabbit Fur Coat goes a step further, calling more attention to her thin but expressive vocals by using spare and unobtrusive instrumentation.

On "Handle with Care," the singer tackles The Traveling Wilburys' 1988 hit, in an inspired cover that recasts the original's all-star lineup with modern-day equivalents: Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service) serves as a natural replacement for Roy Orbison, while the world-weary warble of Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst stands in for the world-weary croak of Bob Dylan.

A bit brisker than the original, but without Jeff Lynne's lush production sparkle, this incarnation of "Handle with Care" could even help spark a Wilbury renaissance -- both of the band's out-of-print albums are tentatively slated for reissue later this year -- when it's not aiding Lewis in her richly deserved rise to stardom.

Listen to yesterday's "Song of the Day."

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)