The Voyager seems a fitting title to the latest album by former Rilo Kiley front woman Jenny Lewis. To say “she’s done it all” would be an understatement. From a career in film and television in the 80’s and 90’s she found a second home for her creativity within music. Over the past 15 years she has been playing in bands, collaborating with artists like Elvis Costello and The Postal Service while finding time to write two solo albums and do a little bit of voice over work for television. She did however take a hiatus from her solo project with it being 5 years since her last album, surprisingly it took roughly two weeks to arrange and record the new album with the help of Ryan Adams who seems to be on the most wanted list of producers at the moment. The end result is The Voyager, a journey through all the emotions and campfire stories that Jenny Lewis can tell at this stage of her life.
The album opens with a easy listening number in Head Underwater; it’s simple and is wonderfully arranged. Jenny carries this song purposefully with her phrasing and voice projecting really nicely. Her lyrics and melodies stand out especially in She’s Not Me, it’s really well written with unambiguous parts that have pivotal roles in making the song sound great. The album drops down a gear with Just One Of The Guys and Slippery Slopes. They are slow indie rock driven songs with Jenny again craftily singing through the lyrics. They both have catchy phrases that keep the at times lethargic music interesting.
The music takes another subtle turn with You Can’t Outrun ‘Em and Late Bloomer. They both have more acoustic textures and a country folk feel to them. She turns into more of a storyteller in her lyrics that add mystery and intrigue to the music. Aloha and Three Johns, as the title indicates, has a Hawaiian theme to it while staying within the rock genre. It has a humorous and fun approach to it with quirky lyrics and a very nice rhythm to dance to. It’s definitely a nice summertime song to listen to on the road.
The album closes with the title track The Voyager that nicely winds things down and puts you in a mellow mood. It’s short and to the point and sums up the album in a way that you can see the journey and the road she’s travelled along.
It may take any artist as long as it’s taken Jenny to come to this level of artistry and musicianship. The album has the signs of someone who has been around music long enough to know what they like and what suits their voice. Each song feels like it’s been given time to develop and has been nurtured by creative people around her that are like minded enough to capture Jenny’s vision. You can’t help but notice the album is filled with songs that display artistic similarities to other great artists, showing she has lived enough elements of those greats in her own sound. 5 years is nothing if you’re willing to wait for something that will be worth listening to for another 5 years and Jenny Lewis has given us an album that lives up to her already successful music career.