Six years since her last solo album, the narrative of Jenny Lewis’s return has concerned itself with depression, insomnia and the recent death of her father. You wouldn’t know it to listen to the music on her third solo album, The Voyager, which is polished, pristine and full to bursting with feelgood melodies. It’s the most accessible work yet from the former singer of cult indie band Rilo Kiley, who may have missed her window for mainstream success at 38 but sounds ready for it should it finally come.
In concert, too, she was positively beaming, wafting around a stage decked with rainbow clouds and blue skies in white flares and a floaty robe. She described the look as “Creepy My Little Pony vibes” but there was little that unsettled from a tight band that harmonised warmly and was loud but rarely unhinged.
The most powerful guitars reared up during Slippery Slopes, tempered by an unhurried pace, and The Next Messiah, an ambitious centrepiece of multiple parts. At the other extreme, Acid Tongue was bliss, delivered by Lewis on acoustic guitar with the five band members, arms around each other, harmonising behind her.
She didn’t say much between songs, save for one startling anecdote about seeing a tramp peeing directly into his own mouth. The songs were full of colourful stories, though. Late Bloomer described a trip to Paris at 16 with a fascinating cast of characters. Closing with a blown kiss, a raised mug and a bunch of flowers thrown into an enthused crowd, hopefully she can tell these tales to a bigger audience next time.