Review: On The Line by Jenny Lewis

On The Line by Jenny LewisI was going to begin this album review along the lines of “Jenny Lewis must have been going through my favorite classic pop songs”, but then that would have been a terribly short-sighted approach to talking about her fourth solo record. On The Line is, in many ways, a breakthrough for the former Rilo Kiley frontwoman: here she finally masters the art of telling her own stories – dipping into her many years in the spotlight, from child actress to indie darling – by telling the stories of other people, with biting wit and brilliant turns of phrase. Accompanying it is, again, that plundering of the classic pop sound, perhaps more so than in her last record The Voyager, although this tme she doesn’t stay with the happy sound she established in that record. Here she gets boozy, filled with lights and pain. It actually can be a bit difficult going through that middle part of the record – it felt too harsh, and I wanted a respite. There is some, and by the album’s end everything is tied up together nicely. It may have been a difficult trip but it was a satisfying trip to be in. [NB]4/5

earthings! 2014: My ten favorites of the year

earthings! 2014

Yep, another list of my ten favorite songs of the year. And it’s just that: my ten favorites of the year. While there is an attempt to weave what is clearly a very personal list into some narrative defining the past year, it will most likely not work as much as it should. That said, there were a lot of interesting songs in the past twelve months, and some of my favorite acts went back with some new bits, too. People went quiet; people went retro; people went organic. So there’s that. I don’t know about you, but this is my year in music, sorted in alphabetical order, although you’re likely to guess what I’m biased towards… that’s just the whole nature of it, yes? We’ll be on a two-week holiday break, and we’ll be back with new entries on 5 January. Hopefully. And now, the list. [NB]

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Review: The Voyager by Jenny Lewis

The Voyager by Jenny LewisFor all the warm fuzzies you get from Jenny Lewis’ third solo effort, there’s actually a lot of work (and emotion) coming into this. The Voyager took five years to write; in those years, her band Rilo Kiley broke up, and her father, who she was distant to for most of her life, passed away. (“You Can’t Outrun ‘Em”, a song about their reconnection, is inevitably one of the most poignant on the record.) But it’s not all strife and heartbreak on the album. One thing Jenny does well is add a dash of sugar to what would usually be a bitter pill, and The Voyager shows that quite well. The sound, too: it’s familiar and timeless indie pop, jangly with a hint of 70s growl here and there. Yeah, not out of place in a Rilo Kiley collection, but there’s something indescribable here – something that yells “Jenny Lewis solo record”. [NB] | 4/5

“It’s gonna hit you with a big wave.”

“Big Wave” by Jenny and Johnny | Speaking of the Cults song I posted yesterday, here’s a song I’ve long been meaning to post. 6 Music played this a lot three years ago – this was when I was at work, headphones on, using these guys to drown out the office around me – and I enjoyed it immensely. And then I forgot about it. (Do they play this song now? I don’t think so.) Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley fame) and her boyfriend Johnathan Rice (aka Roy Orbison on Walk the Line) did one album together, under the name Jenny and Johnny, and it’s more happy sunshine pop (which explains the Cults connection) not apart from some of Rilo Kiley’s stuff. But this just felt fresher. Maybe it’s the boyfriend connection. All the making out? [NB]