One of my favorite albums of 2014 comes from one of the strongest female pop songwriters working today: Jenny Lewis. If you aren’t familiar with Jenny Lewis’s solo material, you may be familiar with her indie pop band Rilo Kiley or even her surf rock outfit Jenny & Johnny. Lewis started her career as a child actor, but unlike some other actor-turned-musicians out there, her former life doesn’t really carry over into the popular perception of her current work. Lewis writes extremely evocative songs with tunes that you’ll be humming for days to come.
One of my favorite things about Lewis’ songwriting is her ability to describe the bigger questions in life. See: her newest single, Just One of the Guys. She wrote this super catchy pop gem that’s all about her perceptions of aging as a woman infused with her questions of whether she actually wants to be where she’s at in life. The first time I heard the bridge, “there’s only difference between you and me, when I look at myself all I can see is that I’m just another lady without a baby,” I felt like someone punched me right in the heart. I feel for her! Another of Lewis’ strengths is her ability to describe the complex, messy way that relationships work. She appears to be highly critical of her own actions and thought processes and lays it out for the world to hear on every record.
Rise Up With Fists!! by Jenny Lewis
The first time I ever heard Jenny Lewis’ music, I was hanging out in Hear Again Records, my favorite record store in Gainesville. I hear this really fantastic female folk record playing in the store and I approach the record store owner to ask him who he’s spinning. I don’t often do this. He tells me it’s Jenny Lewis and her album Rabbit Fur Coat. I ask him if they have a copy of her record. He doesn’t. Turns out it’s out of print. Dang. I immediately track down the local library’s only copy ONLY TO FIND THAT IT’S SCRATCHED. Ugh. Strike 2. At this point, I do something I haven’t done in a long time: I buy a copy of the album on CD. Best/only CD purchase I’ve made in years. Seriously, this record is that good. I honestly couldn’t believe it took me 7 years to discover it.
Just One Of The Guys by Jenny Lewis
I’ll admit that not every song that Lewis has ever worked on clicks for me but when she’s on, she’s really on. Check out A Better Son/Daughter or Silver Lining by Rilo Kiley. Check out My Pet Snakes from her Jenny & Johnny project. Check out the entirety of her solo albums Rabbit Fur Coat or The Voyager. (For real though, Rabbit Fur Coat is easily one of my favorite albums of the 2000s.) You’ll understand why I consider her among the strongest female songwriters working today.