Jenny Lewis
The Voyager


3.9
excellent

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
August 4th, 2014 | 38 replies


Release Date: 07/29/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Nothin' lasts forever when you travel time.

The Voyager is a gorgeous record. Drawn in lush broadstrokes of ‘70s California cool and the kind of warm, fuzzy production Ryan Adams has been marinating in for years, it’s the kind of album that slides by, smooth and sorrowless. Upon first listen, it’s disappointing, the way Under the Blacklight felt, a tired retread of plastic feelings and corny sunsets. That misses the point, of course; like the blackened, rotting center of Under the Blacklight’s tongue-in-cheek representation of Los Angeles decay, The Voyager is a pretty record that hides a fundamental, slow burning sadness. A song like “Love U Forever” is impossible not to sympathize with, as much as you’d rather not; it’s simple and straightforward. “I could love you until all the Polaroids fade,” Lewis sings, and it’s happy, sure, like you expect a song with that title to be. The guitar hitches and surges, but there’s a hint of nostalgia in that bittersweet chorus, a reminder that everything present fades, after a while.

As easy as it goes down, The Voyager is a record that rewards repeated listens. The first album since Lewis’s sugary collaboration with longtime partner Johnathan Rice, 2010’s I’m Having Fun Now, The Voyager feels like a return to solid ground, a run-through of past Rilo Kiley touchstones. Failed romances, melodies that float, alive in a reverb that’s practically its own instrument; The Voyager is classic in its forwardness. It sounds like a faded telegraph from Laurel Canyon. As optimistic a feeling as the bright harmonies and backbreaking backbeat bring to mind on “Head Underwater,” Lewis refuses to pigeonhole herself. “Aloha and the Three Johns” describes a relationship or a vacation, twisted and torn up. It’s at once hopelessly empathetic and terribly candid: “You better hide the weed because the maid is at the door / and I can see a John getting a handjob on the balcony below.” “Just One Of the Guys” is vintage Lewis – tackling the subject of a ticking biological clock with self-flagellating verve and a fair dose of acerbic spit. If nothing else, The Voyager makes the shimmering Sunset Strip production and flawless guitar chime sound like a reckoning. Lewis has always been able to spin a good yarn. On The Voyager, she achieves a certain distance from it all, allowing the music to breathe as its own cautionary tale, and for Lewis herself to arrive at the end of it, stronger, wiser.

There’s a luxury to this album that’s hard to reconcile with the repeated bruisings that Lewis‘s gorgeous voice relates, but it’s true that the best kinds of beauty hurt. Adams has imported the kind of sparkling Americana atmosphere he’s attached himself to in the past few years, and while it’s not much of a digression from late-era Rilo Kiley, or 2008’s awkward, elegant solo outburst Acid Tongue, songs like the impossibly sumptuous “Late Bloomer” and the carefully constructed earworm of opener “Head Underwater” make Lewis appear a siren out of another time. There’s something alluring about this kind of hypnotic recall. It’s a celebration of the past, wholesome and strewn with flowers, yet imbued with a heartache that is affecting and emotionally rending. When The Voyager ends, with a title track as hopelessly positive yet relentlessly self-doubting as the record it concludes, I’m left lost, confused: a record this beautiful shouldn’t be so goddamn sad. But those strings are inarguable, Lewis singing “if you wanna get to heaven, get out of this world” a plain and true statement, if anything at all. The Voyager is a reminder that this will all pass you by, quickly, too, if you’re not careful. Letting that fleeting pain rest alongside you for a little bit, though; The Voyager makes that seem like a preferable option, all told. “I could love you until all our hair turns gray,” Lewis sings on “Love U Forever,” and all the allure of that song is in the lie being told. Nothing lasts forever. But it’s fun to try, right?




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user ratings (36)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2014


10545 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

came around to this record after a while

Digging: Jessie Ware - Tough Love

Veldin
August 3rd 2014


1539 Comments


Loved her in Rilo Kiley, but that new music video with all the famous actresses was rather...dulled.
Good review, though. Cheers mate
*edit* The title track, however is pretty good.

tommygun
August 4th 2014


25142 Comments


good rev apart from an its/it's mixup in the sentence about reverb

sounds interesting will check

Digging: Banks - Goddess

klap
Staff Reviewer
August 4th 2014


10545 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

cheers man. you listen to rilo kiley before?

tommygun
August 4th 2014


25142 Comments


not knowingly, name sounds familiar though... might recognise if i hear them

best starting point?

zakalwe
August 4th 2014


8879 Comments


More Adventurous TG.
Portions for Foxes is a classic tune

Digging: King Buzzo - This Machine Kills Artists

tommygun
August 4th 2014


25142 Comments


sounds good me old mucker

Gyromania
August 4th 2014


15973 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the song you posted is very good

henryChinaski
August 4th 2014


2840 Comments


Listening now. Never checked her out, sounds pretty great so far. That artwork is awesome. Nice write-up!

Digging: Pianos Become the Teeth - Keep You

Gyromania
August 4th 2014


15973 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yah i'm loving this. nearly done

ExcentrifugalForz
August 4th 2014


1828 Comments


This was streamed early on the NPR website.

I think its better than anything she's done in awhile.

ExplosiveOranges
August 4th 2014


3678 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review, man. Might give this one a shot.

Digging: Bloodbath - Grand Morbid Funeral

RadicalEd
August 4th 2014


2760 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Love the review and checked 2 songs, which I both liked alot, I'm already a fan of her singing voice.
Will stream the whole album tonight.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 4th 2014


7433 Comments


... allowing the music to breathe*

Great review, Rudy.

Digging: Wildbirds & Peacedrums - Rhythm

17WordHaiku
August 4th 2014


165 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I wish I could get into this but nothing on here grabs me. I listened to acid tongue so much a few years ago. Disappointed.

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
August 4th 2014


1684 Comments


Sweet review, Rudy. This is great.

tommygun
August 4th 2014


25142 Comments


digging the heck out of this

Gyromania
August 5th 2014


15973 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

bookends are my faves

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 5th 2014


16789 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

And Rudy becomes the first staff to get the same review featured twice, lol

This album is nice but still moderately disappointing compared to her previous works

Digging: Damien Rice - My Favourite Faded Fantasy

tommygun
August 5th 2014


25142 Comments


guitar tone on she's not me solo is delishhh



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