Jenny Lewis occupies a rare space in the ever-changing realm that is the music industry. While the former Rilo Kiley frontwoman is now fifteen years into a recording career that began with the release of that bands first EP, in recent years she has emerged as one of the only independent musicians whose record release date qualifies as An Event. And despite the critical and commercial success that greeted 2006’s Rabbit Fur Coat and 2008’s Acid Tongue, the former bandleader has waited until now to unveil her third solo album. With less than a week to go before it’s official release, The Voyager is one of the most highly anticipated records of the year, inspiring an onslaught of press and even a hand painted mural on the outside of L.A.’s famed Amoeba Records. Produced by Ryan Adams and recorded at his PAX AM studio, The Voyager experiments with a host of halcyon sounds that injects the songs with a color and texture that is completely different than her previous solo work. Balancing the sonically luminous with the lyrically austere, producer and artist exact a rich musical formula that makes The Voyager a compelling document of an artist in search of new terrain.

Both onstage and in the recording studio, the sheer force of Lewis’ presence is jaw dropping. She is a chameleon, transforming herself and revealing herself to an audience completely engrossed by her capacity to construct sharply observant, ultra specific stories that manage to be as absorbing as they are accessible. Her catalogue of music exhibits this same high voltage kick, pairing the unpredictable and unruly elements of rock and roll with the sage musings of an artist with a uniquely individual perspective. Though to listen to her previous work, was to get the impression that these were only glimpses or shades of what the world-weary, road-tested troubadour had experienced. On The Voyager, Lewis deliberately pulls back the curtain to reveal all of the insecurities and impulsiveness that does not automatically wash away with maturity. Through deeply personal songs, Lewis captures the distress and unease that occurs with the realization that time will pass whether we want it to or not, and yesterday’s burdens will always have the potential to bleed into our future. “Head Underwater,” “She’s Not Me,” “Slippery Slopes” and the Beck collaboration “Just One of the Guys,” are high points on an album with few missteps. And though The Voyager lacks the live, unvarnished energy of Rabbit Fur Coat and Acid Tongue, the production and scope of her latest record delivers all of the mood and symmetry that only exists with a cohesive, unified collection of songs. And her decision to work with Ryan Adams, another artist known to have music seeping through their pores, has continued her ability to make the audience feel like they are experiencing something important, meant to be treasured throughout the course of their own voyage through the light and the dark.

Article by: Caitlin Phillips

Photo Credit: Shayne Hanley

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