Jenny Lewis: The Voyager
(Warner Bros., 7/29/14)
"Just One of the Guys"
The coat of many colors that California singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis dons for the cover of her third solo album mimics the contents, a shell of stars and rainbows that runs a spectrum of breezy indie pop to soulful folk. It shields a core of highly personal—but quite universal—storytelling.
Following Lewis’s time with Rilo Kiley and solo albums Rabbit Fur Coat (2006) and Acid Tongue (2008), The Voyager holds an array of themes surrounding the vulnerability and loss that accompanies a launch into adulthood. But rather than wallowing in an anxious reckoning, the strength of this album is in its propulsion, fueled by Lewis’s breathy crescendos that blend with plucky guitar riffs into a momentum to move beyond the heartbreak of growing up.
Lewis collaborated with Beck and Johnathan Rice on various songs, and got in touch with Ryan Adams and Mike Viola after touring with The Postal Service to record. Nostalgic but hardly saccharine, tracks such as “Love U Forever” and “Head Underwater” evoke warmly Stevie Nicks-inspired serenades over old infatuations. “The Voyager” rounds out the effort with a heady mix of the effervescent vocals and steady strums that permeate the album, a gentle acoustic wanderlust.
Lewis has acknowledged that many of the songs here emerged from a period of intense struggle into birthing “the hardest” record she has ever made. Stepping back with a sense of wonder—childhood, adolescence, adulthood—over memories that are already gone, The Voyager is a journey that will not disappoint.