Published Jul 28, 2014If The Voyager is any indication, Jenny Lewis has matured a fair bit in the six years since her last solo album, 2008's Acid Tongue. On that slightly ramshackle, under-produced album, Lewis still sounded a little lost after the dissolution of Rilo Kiley, using guests to fill in the cracks of an album whose sound somehow seemed both bigger and smaller than Lewis at the same time.
On The Voyager, Lewis is confident and sharp, her incisive, dark lyrics juxtaposed by bright, sunny instrumentals that help the album go down easy while rewarding repeat listens. Tortured lyrics about disassociating from oneself after cheating on a loved one — "She's not me… she's easy" — bely the upbeat shuffle of "She's Not Me," for example, while first single "Just One of the Guys" cloaks complex emotions about the hardships of being a woman in a man's world in a chiming chorus and big, strummy major chords. It's captivating, poignant stuff.
Sadly, the album can't maintain that pace, and sags near the end: "The New You" has a worthwhile message, but lyrics like "It's a new you everyday," sung in a melody that Lewis has seemingly used before, make it tired; "Aloha & The Three Johns" sounds stringy, and its rock-y chorus feels tacked on. Still, the redemptive rest of the album — especially the gorgeous closing title track — make The Voyager a welcome return for Lewis.
Read our recent Questionnaire with Lewis here. (Warner Bros.)