Jenny Lewis - On the Line
On the Line
For how long she has been ever present in the industry it's a bit surprising that On the Line is only Jenny Lewis' fourth studio album. Her last record The Voyager also featured a head and legless torso shot of Lewis adorned in a raindow suit she wore throughout her tour. This time however She dons a fancier dress perhaps symbolizing a shift in the aesthetic of her music. It's true that she will alwyas stick to her indie roots, but on this new album she seems to stretch a bit more for the rafters with bigger and bolder tracks. "Heads Gonna Roll" feels like a slice of country inspired Americana, but plenty of foot stomping to be had. Jenny Lewis is a seriously good songwriter as she weaves her way through complex issues. "Wasted Youth" dives into the idea that on one hand you can feel like your life was wasted on childish things while looking at it from a distance, but in the moment it doesn't feel that way. "Red Bull & Hennessy" also feels like a forlorn lover lost ina bottle but trying to find their way out somehow. That is the thing you find with Jenny Lewis is she really knows how to write the hell out of a song, but performing it is sort of another thing. Her writing sets her apart, but her performance sort of sets her back. I've always loved Jenny Lewis when she collaborates, but when she is the one singing or performing it just looses some kind of element that would really set it apart. She also tends to fall back on the way music has always been done rather than pushing the production elements forward.
It's the same issue with a lot of singer songwriter that their songs often don't line up with their performance, that's why so many people write for others. "Do Si So" is this really wild experimental song and it fits Jenny Lewis so well. It's wonderful when she gets away from the acoustic or the piano and gets a little weird. "Dogwood" is similar, but it takes forever for Lewis to allow the real meat of the song come in. "Party Clown" is another song that has been done and done to death with Lewis bringing nothing really to it. There are a great deal of moments where it feels like Lewis is on the right track, but the album is also painfully slow. She keeps striving for this slow burn honky tonk vibe but it just feels dated and odd. Jenny Lewis shouldn't be a throwback, she should be forward thinking. That's why "Little White Dove" is so disappointing, it is both slow and grounded in this really boring sound. There are things to like about this album but also a lot that is yawn inducing. You want Jenny Lewis to be better and you want better for Jenny Lewis, she just hasn't found it yet in her solo stuff the way she has when she works without others.
6.5 out of 10