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Jenny Lewis - On The Line (Album Review)

Monday, 01 April 2019 Written by Huw Baines

Photo: Autumn De Wilde

With ‘On The Line’, her fourth solo record, Jenny Lewis settles into what is shaping up as her imperial phase. Five years on from the genteel soft-rock adventures of ‘The Voyager’, the former Rilo Kiley vocalist has switched out its pastel hues for a wonderful collection of golden ballads and sparky road songs.

Lewis has rarely sounded better, breathing soul and warmth into an exceptionally personal body of work. Bound to a slate of vivid character studies and a winsome stream of particulars, from borrowed convertible red Porsches to ruby slippers and Don Quixote, are hard-nosed asides about her mother’s drug addiction and death, plus the end of a long-term relationship. 

“I wasted my youth on a poppy,” Lewis sings on Wasted Youth, a song with a broken heart and an endearing, loping Tom Petty gait. It’s a combination that pops up several times—see the exceptional lead single Red Bull & Hennessy—and at each turn feels warm and satisfying. It’s almost a reassuring sort of melancholy. 

Around Lewis some high-wattage supporting players, among them former Heartbreaker Benmont Tench, Ringo Starr, and Don Was, slip into the mise en scene and add a quiet authority.

So many rock ‘n’ roll daydreams hinge on that intangible idea of cool—something that an awful lot of artists later trip over—but in exalted company Lewis embodies it with barely a shrug. Delivering the gilded melody of the opener Heads Gonna Roll, or the Beck-produced psych-pop of Do Si Do, she is never less than deeply cool.

And, when that charisma is coupled with the weight of her words, what we have is pop music in a microcosm: truth, misery, happiness, and the rest of it, delivered in a manner that makes us step outside ourselves for a moment. 

‘On The Line’ might not reinvent anything—even those coming to Lewis’s music for the first time will only need a minute or so to catch her drift—but it is a further refinement in a discography that’s shaping up as one of the modern greats

Jenny Lewis Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed July 24 2019 - BRIGHTON Komedia
Thu July 25 2019 - LONDON Electric Ballroom
Sat July 27 2019 - EDINBURGH Queens Hall
Sun July 28 2019 - MANCHESTER RNCM Concert Hall
Mon July 29 2019 - DUBLIN Button Factory

Click here to compare & buy Jenny Lewis Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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