It doesn’t take long for the darkness to come seeping out of the sunshine-and-candy-coated “Just One Of The Guys.” “All our friends, they’re getting on / But the girls, they’re staying young,” sings the 38-year-old Jenny Lewis, perfectly capturing the double standards placed on a female singer, not to mention women in general. Her previous album–2008’s Acid Tongue–seemed prescient, since Lewis has a way with twisting the lyrical knife. There’s plenty of that on The Voyager–one of the best-reviewed albums of the year–thanks to a confluence of stress that took five years to exorcise. “My band broke up, my father passed away, and I started experiencing insomnia for the first time in my life,” she told NPR, and these hefty topics all make for a sobering listen.
Yet Lewis doesn’t wallow; there’s something more powerful about sneaking these kinds of shadows into music that nods towards SoCal studio rock and folk (which Lewis grew up listening to). She worked with Ryan Adams and Beck on making the songs shiny and big, but also warm and inviting–the kind of “big tent” rock record that rarely gets made anymore. Her hyper-specific lyrics only draw you in more, and she’s got a lot to say.
Lewis stopped by our Studio 1A ahead of her set at ACL Fest 2014 and told KUTX’s Trina Quinn about some of the unusual techniques that Ryan Adams used in the studio (including blasting Creed at full volume and telling Lewis to write her own “Wonderwall”). She also showed off her live chops, built up from a lifetime of performing. Download an acoustic version of “Just One Of The Guys” below!