Album Review: 'The Voyager'

Jenny Lewis began her career as a kid actress in TV series such as Roseanne. But in the '90s, she began singing instead. Reviewer Meredith Ochs says that Lewis' third solo album, The Voyager, offers music much like its title: It takes you on a trip from start to finish.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The music of indie rock singer Jenny Lewis may sound breezy, but on her latest album, her third, the California artist takes a darker turn. Critic Meredith Ochs says it depicts a woman at a difficult midpoint in her life.

MEREDITH OCHS, BYLINE: Jenny Lewis's new album shimmers like California sunshine glinting off the Pacific Ocean, steeped in the West Coast pop sounds of the 1970s. Born in Las Vegas where her parents were performers, Lewis moved to Southern California as a kid and started acting in commercials, TV and film. She turned to music in the 1990s, forming the indie band Rilo Kiley and then embarked on a solo career.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHE'S NOT ME")

JENNY LEWIS: (Singing) I used to think you could save me. I've been wondering lately - Heard she's having your baby. And everything's so amazing.

OCHS: Beneath Lewis's sweet melodies and lilting vibrato are serious themes. She leaves her inner conflict into songs like this one which conveys the feeling of watching someone else get everything you ever wanted.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHE'S NOT ME")

LEWIS: (Singing) but she's not me. She's easy.

OCHS: Jenny Lewis says she was going through tough times when she wrote these songs, including a bad bout of insomnia and the death of her estranged father, which she says was the most difficult subject to delve into. But she does it poignantly.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU CAN'T OUTRUN 'EM")

LEWIS: (Singing) I guess two souls will meet again when the universe thinks they should. Even if their bloodlines don't run as deep as they could.

OCHS: As Lewis reconnects with her dad on this song, she comes to a realization - not only is her behavior influenced by him, but the fact that she experienced some of the same things he did just may be the best reason to forgive him and reconcile.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU CAN'T OUTRUN 'EM")

LEWIS: (Singing) You can't outrun - you can outrun 'em. You can't out run 'em. They want your head. You can't out run 'em. You can't out run 'em.

OCHS: Jenny Lewis aptly titles her new album "the Voyager." It takes you on a trip from start to finish. On the opening track, Lewis is underwater, shrouded in darkness. By the end, she's turned her attention toward the sky, pondering something vast and much larger than herself. But the best part is in the middle - the voyage itself, a woman's reckoning at a midpoint in her life. Lewis wrestles with her choices and deals with the consequences. But she also gilds all the heaviness with something the rest of us can sing along to.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JUST ONE OF THE GUYS")

LEWIS: (Singing) No matter how hard I try to be just one of the guys, there's a little something inside that won't let me.

CORNISH: The album by Jenny Lewis is called "the Voyager." Our reviewer Meredith Ochs is a talk show host and DJ at Sirius M Radio.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JUST ONE OF THE GUYS")

LEWIS: (Singing) There's a little voice inside that prevents me.

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