Jenny Lewis offers up her third solo album this summer which is exciting because everything Lewis has a hand in is lyrical gold. “The Voyager” is another soulful album that highlights Lewis’ strengths as a songwriter and vocal master. It’s hard to categorize her music. She has an eclectic musical background and influence. Her parents had a Vegas lounge act in the 70’s, she was a child star in the 80’s (Troop Beverly Hills and The Wizard), she struggled as an actress in the 90’s, and then discovered a love and talent for writing songs. In 1999, with the band Rilo Kiley, the first of those musical efforts came to fruition with the EP, “The Initial Friend.” Rilo Kiley went on to make four more albums and toured with Coldplay and The Postal Service until they dissolved the group in 2010. The latter three albums (“The Execution of All Things,”More Adventurous,” and “Under the Blacklight”) received critical praise and gained the band a decent following of fans. Lewis branched out on her own as kind of a response to her ex-boyfriend and bandmate, Blake Sennet, releasing his own album. An “anything you can do, I can do” motivation. Sennet was also a child actor (Salute Your Shorts and Boy Meets World) and aspiring songwriter and performer. It seemed the two butted heads, each trying to claim that artistic leadership role. Whatever her reason for going out on her own, the listening public is all the better for it.
Her first album, “Rabbit Fur Coat” consists of Southern, gospel-like melodies. “Acid Tongue,” the sophomoric release, has roots in hippie, 70’s style rock ballads. “The Voyager” seems to echo Rilo Kiley’s style of folky, hipster, Southern California rock. With themes of womanly mid-life crises and casual feminism, “The Voyager” provides those storytelling, poetic moments that Lewis has perfected, as well as that hauntingly girlish voice that changes and adapts to enhance each song and verse. In the title track, Lewis coos, “The voyager’s in every boy and girl. If you want to go to heaven, get out of this world.” She somehow evokes a spacey, other worldly version of her sound. In “Just One Of The Guys,” she muses over the inevitable ticking clock. “No matter how hard I try to be just one of the guys, there’s a little something inside that won’t let me.” Lewis directed the music video for this track featuring Anne Hathaway, Brie Larson, and Kristin Stewart in both feminine and masculine roles. There’s an easy, non-aggressive girl power feeling in the album, especially in “Just One Of The Guys” and “She’s Not Me.”
Beck, who collaborated on “Just One Of The Guys,” has said that he “feels like music needs her. It needs someone doing what she is doing.” Lewis brings a unique sound and a rare insight that does feel necessary in today’s music landscape. And it has felt that way ever since she first recognized her talents and shared them with the world.
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