Jenny Lewis brings back the past and comes back to Jenny Lewis. The singer/songwriter once of Rilo Kiley has gone a couple of different directions since Kiley went on hiatus in 2008 and she released her second solo record, Acid Tongue (QRO review), going on to release a record with her boyfriend Jonathan Rice as ‘Jenny & Johnny’ (QRO album review) and even participating in The Postal Service’s reunion tour (QRO photos). Rilo Kiley finally officially called it quits last year, which provided the spark for Lewis’ return to her solo work on The Voyager, which brings back more great American pop-rock stylings.
Whereas Acid Tongue varied in its revivals, The Voyager sticks mostly to the pop/rock/country that dominated airwaves in the seventies, like on opener “Head Underwater” or later “Aloha & The Three Johns”. The record hits its peak when Lewis puts more of herself into certain songs, like the sweet disco of him moving on in “She’s Not Me”, unable to be “Just One of the Guys”, or sweet & sexy & wistful crazy teenage summer “Late Bloomer”. She’s an effective and charming presence, even when just kicking back with the girls (before getting married) on “Love U Forever”.
There is an interesting strain of relationships in The Voyager that sets it apart from most ‘albums about love’, including getting married, threesomes, and babies (hers and his). However, sometimes the record slips back, as the songs that don’t stand out really don’t stand out, making it some great songs – and some filler. For instance, “The New You” comes off as some relatively simple ‘up with people’ country.
Jenny Lewis has had some ups and downs, but has a well-earned confidence and she draws from the past on The Voyager.