Album review: Jenny Lewis - The Voyager
PUBLISHED: 09:30 02 August 2014
Personal trauma and professional strife provide ample sustenance for some of Lewis’ best material in years.
In the six years since her last solo album, Lewis has seen her band Rilo Kiley split and her estranged father die, and wrote most of these songs during bouts of severe insomnia in which she would be awake for up to five days.
Not that you’d guess from this LP of charming, warm and disarming ditties. With singer-songwriter Ryan Adams on production duties, The Voyager straps Lewis’ lightly-honeyed vocals and predilection for honest, piercing lyrics to a smooth mix of gently electrified country and Americana. Her common-touch poeticism is put to task exploring the lesser-trodden outlands of adult love and heartache.
Now 38, Lewis cleverly elucidates the battle-scarred independent woman: older, wiser, wittier, sometimes jaded, wrestling with new paradoxes alongside the old.
She spells it out in the Beck-produced Just One Of The Guys, lamenting her own yearning for motherhood’s fight against the “little clock inside that keeps ticking”, before drowning her sorrows over a lover moving on in She’s Not Me: a gently sad, harmonised pop number initially backed by violin but riding out on a frazzled guitar solo.
The lovely, languorous rock of Slippery Slopes tackles infidelity while on the road and the title track’s understated beauty bookends the album with veiled references to drugs (“that Kool Aid of the cosmos”) that builds from vocals and acoustic guitar to a swooning, sweeping and majestic climax smattered with piano, strings and echo-laden harmonies.
The Voyager finds Lewis back to her best.
Rating: 4/5 stars