REVIEW: Jenny Lewis // On The Line
After five long years of delineative, introspective songwriting, Jenny Lewis is ready to remind the world what she’s made of with her contemporary and illustrious solo record, On the Line.
Veracious and somber ballads decorate On the Line outlining Lewis’ recent devastating heartbreak with musician and producer Jonathan Rice. In “Taffy” she paints the picture of how their twelve-year long relationship came crashing down: “I wanted to please you, my dress was see-through/As I looked through your phone.” In “Dogwood,” we sit with the opening melodramatic piano chords and low ambient noises of Lewis in the recording studio. It’s vulnerable, it’s organic. It’s the type of poignant rawness that’s been absent from indie rock ballads for far too long.
Lewis is setting a new precedent for modern rock music with tracks like “Red Bull & Hennessy” with its catchy guitar riffs and thumping drum and basslines. It’s fresh, innovative and alluring. Ripping and skipping glitches at the tail end of the song are startling (but not unwelcome) as if CD is skipping or a Bluetooth speaker is dying. It grabs you by the collar and tugs as if to ask, “Are you still listening?”
“Was it a dream?/When you called me kitten and her majesty/I'm your blood, I want more/The water from my eyes fell to the floor”
One of the many exceptional elements of the foundation of this heart-wrenching record is Lewis’ knack for impassioned, woeful lyrics. The way she belts out “If you keep dreamin', keep sleeping' through the night/'Cause your demons got reason to fight” over a constant, steady piano rhythm and melancholy guitar chords in “Hollywood Lawn” will leave tears in anyone’s eyes.
Lewis flashes back to her childhood with the thought-provoking track, “Wasted Youth,” reflecting on her mother’s heroin addiction while she sings “I wasted my youth on a poppy.” Her impeccable song writing streak continues on with “Little White Dove,” another track about her addiction and recent death. She writes while visiting her mother in the hospital, recounting their complex relationship: “Was it a dream?/When you called me kitten and her majesty/I'm your blood, I want more/The water from my eyes fell to the floor” Tragic stories of loss, agony, and personal tribulations are shaped into bewitching poetry at the hands of Lewis.
On the Line isn’t just an album for the grieving and the broken-hearted. It’s about growing from your past, always looking forward and persevering. Lewis isn’t just a singer-songwriter. She’s an artist, a performer. She is transmitting her thoughts and feelings to every listener and her euphonic and mellow crooning is enough to knock even the toughest of us to our knees.
Best Tracks: Wasted Youth, Red Bull & Hennessy, Dogwood
- Bridget McGuigan