Recently Jenny Lewis gave an interview with Grantland but the star of the podcast was not Lewis herself or even the interviewer Andy Greenwald, it was instead Ryan Adams who produced most of her new album The Voyager (you can download it on on iTunes). The interview started off in earnest with Lewis uncomfortably recounting the demise of her band Riley Kilo and her struggles with insomnia (ironically one of the better curse for insomnia may actually be hearing other people talking about insomnia) but the interview really picked up when Lewis started talking about working with Ryan at it Pax Am studio in Los Angeles.
As a long time fan of Adams I know the guy can be eccentric, this is a guy who started off his first solo album with an “argument with David Rawlings concerning Morrisey” and famously stopped a concert and would not continue until a fan who requested Summer Of '69 was removed from the building. In her interview told tales of how Adams refused to listen to playback (nor would let Lewis do the same) and when he told her to scream like John Lennon as he was leaving the studio for the day. This culminated with Adams adamantly telling Lewis to go home and write Wonderwall. The thing is I came away from the interview much more excited for Ryan’s upcoming self titled album coming out next month than the new Lewis album which came out this week.
That is not to say there is nothing worth checking out on The Voyager and it is hard not to see if Adams’ unorthodox recording techniques paid off. At first listen, The Voyager sound more upbeat and less folksy than her two previous solo albums and subsequent listens you can definitely tell the tracks where Adams contributes guitar like at the end of She’s Not Me. Slippery Stone even sounds like it could be an opening riff to an Adams song. It may actually be easier to pick out the non-Adams tracks for instance Just One of the Guys produced by Beck (yes that is him on backing vocals, the most overt indie-pop song which veers into annoyingly catchy with the oo-oo’s punctuated throughout the song. The better pop song may actually be the album opener Head Underwater.
The album closes with the title track which is also the song that came out of the Wonderwall request. It is an acoustic based ballad with strings, but that is as close to Wonderwall as her song gets (Lewis does point out in the interview if she could have written a Wonderwall she already would have done it). Nor does she find a way to scream like Lennon on the song as requested. It is the most different song on the album and actually does a good job wrapping up the album. Now I need to turn my attention for the release of the Ryan Adams album to see if there are any Wonderwalls or John Lennon screams. Okay, thinking about it, that would kin of make it li9ke every Ryan Adams album, one of which actually had a Wonderwall cover.
Song to Download – Head Underwater
The Voyager gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.