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Published on May 6th, 2019 | by voxx

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Jenny Lewis – On The Line

The former Rilo Kiley front woman faces down personal turmoil with a masterful fourth LP…

Jenny Lewis has the type of voice you miss in its absence, an effortless, salty contralto with a sharp lyrical adroitness that propelled her first through a career as the front woman for Rilo Kiley and on through three solo records. It’s been five years since her last, 2014’s The Voyager, and the first few notes of solo Lennon-like opener ‘Heads Gonna Roll’ come with both a relief at her return and trepidation about what tales she might have accumulated over the past half-decade.

Much has changed since The Voyager, globally of course, but also in Lewis’s own sphere, including the death of her mother, the end of a 12-year relationship with songwriter Johnathan Rice and the sudden jolt of single life. It’s to the album’s boon that she stares down each topic unflinchingly: squandered years, the myth of the muse, hooking up, giving head and, on the strange, somnambulant torch song ‘Dogwood’, the moment when a relationship has broken down to the point where, “There was nothing we could do but screw.”

For all the difficulties, Lewis has never sounded on stronger form than she does here. Soaring to a crescendo on ‘Hollywood Lawn’, falling tender and lonesome on ‘Taffy’, prowling her way through the sultry ‘Little White Dove’. Behind her the music splays warmly across genre and style, taking in airs of Fleetwood Mac, Carole King and Aimee Mann, but also disco, funk and pop. The playing is loose and elegant, as one might expect from an all-star band that includes Ringo Starr, Beck and Don Was, their presence underscoring the feeling that Lewis has delivered something of a classic here.

- By Jake White


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