It's been six years since Las Vegas native Jenny Lewis released her last solo album. In that time, Rilo Kiley (the indie rock act she fronted) broke up, and her estranged father died, so she's had a few things on her mind -- and she's let them out on The Voyager.
Full of matter-of-fact musings on ageing (she's now 38), mortality, heartbreak, childlessness, wanting to get out of one's head, it's a painstakingly crafted album of retro-soul-pop-rock. It's easy-listening -- full of head-nodding melodies, sweet harmonies, chiming guitars, and quietly psychedelic organ parts. And it's smart -- lyrically clear and up front, as though Lewis feels free of all desire for obfuscation.
They're not all memorable songs, and some of the production is too thin or light for her voice, which is so clean and bright. She's Not Me for example, which feels a little Haim-inspired, could be gruntier, perhaps encouraging a rawer quality in her voice.
But she's still very beguiling, particularly on the breathy chorus of Late Bloomer and the defining hit -- Just One Of The Guys. The Beck-produced track has a brilliant slacker-country tinged feel, is full of hooks, a rich tapestry of percussion, guitars, and 70s harmonies, and soaked in attitude. And the video, which features a few friends (Anne Hathaway, Kristin Stewart, and Brie Larson) is truly excellent.
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Lyrically smart, musically sweet return to form