Jenny Lewis will blow your head out of the water with her new album “The Voyager.”
The first time I heard Jenny Lewis’s much-talked-about single, “Just One of the Guys,” it was August and I was lying on an inflatable blue raft in the middle of my pool. The California sun beat down on me as the California sounds of this carefree plea wafted from my laptop, which was dangerously close to the edge of the pool. A friend from work had given me a mix of the newest and coolest songs of the summer.
“The Voyager,” the album on which “Just One of the Guys” is track three, leaves listeners tapping their feet, swaying and reflecting. Lewis comes on strong with the upbeat and punchy chorus of “Head Underwater.” The melody shifts from an unassuming softness to a belted and catchy refrain. Lyrically Lewis revels in uncertainty until she and the music break down, and we are given hope with the lyric, “there’s a little bit of magic, everybody has it.”
Lewis’s lyrics reveal her confidence in her feelings, even when those feelings are that she’s completely lost. Part of this comes from the personal issues Lewis worked through during the making of this album. Rilo Kiley, her band before she went solo, had just broken up. Lewis said in a statement, “After Rilo Kiley broke up and a few really intense personal things happened, I completely melted down. It nearly destroyed me. I had such severe insomnia that, at one point, I didn’t sleep for five straight nights. Many of the songs on ‘The Voyager’ came out of the need to occupy my mind in the moments when I just couldn’t shut down.”
At times Jenny Lewis conjures Carol King with her folksy, wavering voice and storytelling, particularly in track five, “Late Bloomer.” However, her songs are about the changing and lonely time that is modern young adult life, and her electric guitar riffs lean more toward a grungy angst similar to alternative artists like The Kooks, Weezer and Oasis. Lewis definitely has a style all her own.
The undeniable shining star of the album is the single “Just One of the Guys.” This song not only rocks in the chillest way possible, but also bares Lewis’s troubled soul. After listening to the subtle, swaying harmonies of the verse, Lewis’s chorus floats to the top and demands attention from the listener.
“No matter how hard I try to be just one of the guys / There’s a little something inside that won’t let me. / No matter how hard I try to have an open mind / There’s a little clock inside that keeps tickin’.”
In “Just One of the Guys,” Lewis speaks to one of the most interesting gender issues of our time. She reveals her feelings in a sincere and non-confrontational way. The idea that a woman feels she needs to become more masculine or deny her feelings to fit in is something I’ve seen in my own life. She then lowers her voice to almost a whisper as she sings a bridge that undoubtedly resonates with many women: “There’s only one difference between you and me: / When I look at myself all I can see, / I’m just another lady without a baby.” “Just One of the Guys” will be stuck in your head for days and leave you contemplating the challenges of young adult life in unexpected and genuine ways. The star-studded music video (Anne Hathaway and Kristen Stewart make appearances as Adidas-wearing, facial hair-bearing men) is a highly recommended watch. Sit back, relax and imagine you’re lying on an inflatable blue raft in the middle of a pool in California as you soak in “The Voyager.”
Contact Rachel Paul at