Jenny Lewis releases her third solo album, the follow-up to 2008’s Acid Tongue which was produced by Ryan Adams, Mike Viola, Beck, and Lewis’ longtime collaborator Johnathan Rice. Written after the break-up of her former band Rilo Kiley, and in the wake of her estranged father’s death, the album is her most introspective yet. “Making The Voyager got me through one of the most difficult periods of my life,” the artist said in a statement.
The vibe is unabashedly ’70s California — the confessional songs and country-tinged melodies of the Laurel Canyon era merged with Fleetwood Mac’s gleaming but tortured pop-rock. Lewis’ pristine, at times deceptively childlike voice channels a series of life-shaking events. “Head Underwater” chronicles a breakdown in a bouncy tune supported by wordless backing vocals. There’s a hint of hope as the song winds down, but at a steep price. “She’s Not Me” is equally transparent about a breakup: “Remember the night I destroyed it all/ When I told you I cheated/ And you punched through the drywall.”
Recorded with friends such as Beck, The Watson Twins and Benmont Tench, and largely produced by Ryan Adams, the songs balance lush textures with organic arrangements that put Lewis’ voice and the melody at the forefront. Nothing feels particularly overdone, and the album plays smoothly enough to qualify as background music for a sand bar.