A chat last week with another Jenny Lewis fan about her near-perfect album The Voyager, inspired this week’s gig replacement therapy.
Wind Back Wednesday finds the quintessential Los Angeleno in a 2015 Sydney solo show while on tour with Ryan Adams. And it’s all manner of good.
The Metro, July 22
This is so true, though not exactly for the reasons she thought when she wrote it.
Before the bouncing, oversized (and occasionally dangerous to band members) balloons went careering merrily about the room, reflecting everyone’s buoyant, brightly coloured mood.
Before the now customary gorgeously happy/sad end of the night serenade of Acid Tongue, sung with all band members in doo-wop pose around one microphone and Jenny Lewis leading the choir on acoustic guitar.
Before The New You, a song “about the loneliest heavy metal fan in America” which sounded like a golden Christine McVie moment from 1975 that surely had been misplaced for a few decades.
Before all that, Lewis sang, with a slouching rhythm and sleepy melody, “No matter how hard I try to be just one of the guys, there’s a little something that won’t let me in”. Yep, there is. That little thing that keeps her from the regular, that separates her from the rest, is just being better than them.
And not just because she is so effortlessly charismatic.
Few people can make this kind of sweet and sour/soothing and biting pop music so well and so entertainingly. It gives us a song like Head Underwater: balancing bitter mortality and the dogged optimism that “there’s a little bit of magic/everybody has it”, with a west coast groove and exquisite harmonies (a signature of her seriously talented band). And it gives us Rise Up With Fists, a swooning mix of lush voices that give more than a nod to the glory days of countrypolitan and lyrics which prick pretentions of integrity while still refusing to give in.
And then another dozen songs like She’s Not Me with soft exteriors and hard truth centres, slinky guitar lines and dry delivery, sexiness and bullshit-free observations. Oh yes, and in Portions For Foxes a burst of power pop energy that still makes your hips move.
You leave the night humming a tune or three and savouring a good line you’d like to drop into conversation one day. You leave pretty pleased Jenny Lewis is not one of the guys.