Album Review

Jenny Lewis - Joy’All

A choppy but accomplished foray into Nashville’s wide range of sounds, continuing Jenny’s legacy as a standout musician skirting along the edge of the mainstream.

Jenny Lewis - Joy'All

For many, approaching their fifth solo studio album – the follow-up to their most critically celebrated across all their musical endeavours – would be a complex affair. For Jenny Lewis and ‘Joy’All’, it all came together remarkably quickly. Daily group writing sessions with Beck instigated by the pandemic spawned a significant portion of the record, and production materialised with a chance encounter with country legend Dave Cobb. Primarily recorded with a live house band, it was locked in across a couple of weeks, give or take. That process instils the record’s DNA, a choppy but accomplished foray into Nashville’s wide range of sounds, continuing Jenny’s legacy as a standout musician skirting along the edge of the mainstream. Who else would be asked to support global megastar Harry Styles on the stateside leg of his tour, far removed from his loyal fanbase but welcomed with open arms.

Any pop influences picked up on the road are few and far between on ‘Joy’All’, instead the album blossoms out of the whirlwind live performance setting. Each track conjures up dusty Nashville bars, from the spoken word sandwiched between a lament to love on album closer ‘Chain Of Tears’ to a knowing play on country cliches on Jenny’s exploration of happiness in her forties, ‘Puppy and a Truck’. That it’s a heartfelt homage to the genre is immediately clear from the record’s cover, a deliberate call-back to some of the scene’s greats, and ‘Joy’All’ pairs this with notably contemporary lyrics. “I’m not a psycho,” Jenny sings on the opening track, “I’m just tryna get laid.” Her subsequent self-labelling as a rock and roll disciple tells you all you need to know.

Having spent time with cult indie heroes Rilo Kiley, and preparing to return with The Postal Service for the 20th anniversary of ‘Give Up’ alongside a lengthy film and TV career and a handful of high profile late night talk show performances, Jenny Lewis has consistently flirted with mainstream success. Whether ‘Joy’All’ opens that door, and whether that’s even the intention, remains ambiguous, but in its wild, country-tinged erraticism it presents Jenny Lewis as she has always been, with music and its legacy running freely through her veins.

Tags: Jenny Lewis, Reviews, Album Reviews

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