Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Album Review: Jenny Lewis- The Voyager

Jenny Lewis
The Voyager
**** out of *****
On her first solo disk in 6 years Jenny Lewis teamed up with producer Ryan Adams because of how much she dug his Pax Am Studio and the tons of gear that could be played with, but this isn't a disk that hides much. Musically it displays a crisp, clear, powerful pop-rock sound with direct guitars, keys, bass and strings while Lewis' vocals are bright her lyrics are not as shiny.

The opener finds Lewis with collaborator/boyfriend Jonathan Rice as "Head Underwater" showcases a spacey cool sound. "You Can't Outrun 'Em" gets its Fleetwood Mac groove on as "The New You" harkens back to September 11th 2001 as the beginning of the end of a relationship peppered with some excellently specific lyrics over a fantastic snare sound; this song could get sappy or even worse in lesser hands.    

While the matching of upbeat well produced tunes don't always jive with Lewis' questioning/deep wordplay the combo still manages pop workouts that get better and better as you let the broken relationship tales sink in. In the end the disk sounds like a deeper lyrical version of a Tom Petty album, that is if Petty wrote effecting songs as a mid-thirties woman reflecting on life.   

Missed/upcoming marriages, no children and ending of odd vacations all get lyrical airings but never fall into cheesy even as things stay mainstream. The best combos instantly hit home as on the gloriously soulful "She's Not Me" that feels aching, while the title track hits the outer-space lands as Lewis trips into the cosmos with violins and soaring drama.

Perhaps the best of the bunch though is "Just One Of The Guys" as Lewis teams with Beck for some easy country rollicking over deep bass, jangling guitars and drum. The lush sounding track tackles middle age opposite sex friendship and the struggles that come with it from the female point of view.

While Lewis nails lots of lyrics on The Voyager with direct lyrical pinpoints (even in this song) she leaves the end aloof with the phrase, "I'm not gonna break for you/I'm not gonna pray for you/I'm not gonna pay for you/That's not what ladies do". I will personally never truly know what they do, but if Lewis keeps making tracks like that I will keep listening to find out. 
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Having not really known Ms. Lewis before seeing her recently I feel in a unique position of approaching this album differently then long time fans of hers. This disk works really well as 70's styled pop-rock, not usually a genre favorite of ours but The Voyager is a damn good ride.

Support the artist here, buy the album here and peep some video below:

2 comments:

  1. LOVE Jenny Lewis. Overall I think this album is pretty good, with the exception of a couple pretty superficial tracks (the one I'm thinking of sounds like it's about a bachelorette party). Love "Just One of the Guys," especially that hyper-produced, jangly guitar sound. I'd rank this album below Rabbit Fur Coat but higher than Acid Tongue as far as her solo catalog goes.

    You should check out Rabbit Fur Coat and the Rilo Kiley album The Execution of All Things if you haven't already. Both are on my list of desert island albums.

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  2. Awesome, should have known you would like her. First time I really saw her was at Gov's Island and I really was surprised how much I liked her. Will def go back and check those disks out.

    I feel she wanted things to be semi-superficial here and that is why it works, its not tongue in cheek it is Pop with a capital P music with some hurtful stories underneath, like the best versions of pop songs. I am digging it the more I listen.

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