Jenny Lewis, long time indie star, has been making a lot of waves recently with this new album, yes, but with her star-studded music video for “Just One Of The Guys.” Regardless, this lady has put in a lot of time and effort into her musical career and many projects she’s worked on and all the buzz around the Voyager is well deserved, as it’s a joy to listen to from start to finish.
Last time around on her solo effort on Acid Tongue, Lewis got mixed reviews when it came to the reception, but 2008 is long ago and a lot can happen in six years, as this album is a testament to. Her songwriting takes center stage, and each track is either a story from the past or a commentary on the changing times; of love and lost and what exactly it means to be in Jenny Lewis’ shoes. The first track that grabs you just so happens to be the opener, but what reaches out to me is the guitar riff and not the songwriting. “Head Underwater,” though not devoid of witty and reflective lyrics, seems a little bland until about halfway through the track where this precision guitar riff and some backing “oohs” pulls you in to this gypsy folk funk-twisted rock. The beat of this track is quick and Lewis’ voice is all power and commands the song in all its hops and skips. Next up you get a little deeper into this groovy take on bluesy rock with “She’s Not Me, ”which is one of my favorites from the record, complete with a string breakdown and guitar solo outro.
As the album progresses you begin to focus more and more on the songwriting and therein the storytelling that is to be found here. Deeper tracks like “Late Bloomer” and the title track,” The Voyager,” both give you full stories to reflect in and on. The first of these two tracks delves into the past of the narrator, recounting and retelling when she was sixteen. It’s obvious that Lewis has a vast amount of experience to draw on and spin into tales of intrigue. “The Voyager” closes the album by starting off with some epic string arrangements only to scale it back to just Lewis’ vocals and some acoustic guitar. You can here the simplistic brilliance in the songwriting through the choral tag: “If you wanna get to heaven get out of this world–” she takes simple life instances and turns them into deeper reflections.
My criticism of this album is that it feels a little too easy to listen to. While that may seem to be a ridiculous critique to you, dear reader, there’s a small part of me that worries the ease of listening may detract from the overall longevity of the record, as I’ve yet to really live with this album for a while. Time will tell if The Voyager can withstand its own voyages.