story / JORDAN BLAKEMAN
photos / JEREMIAH GARCIA
You have to step back to remember The Voyager was a multi-year process born out of troubling times when Jenny Lewis sings into the microphone completely self-assured. She’s spent years on the stage since leaving behind her child actor beginnings and has grown into an icon for an entire generation of women across the world. She may not be a name in pop like Katy Perry or other starlets but she’s been stamped across the hearts of many as a beacon of familiarity and strength when her words helped overcome heartbreak or played the soundtrack to lifelong memories.
I was fortunate to be able to catch Lewis in an intimate setting at the famous Apogee Studios at a session curated by the legendary KCRW. Apogee is the private studio of Bob Clearmountain, a producer and sound engineer who has worked with esteemed artists such as Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Bryan Adams, Paul McCartney, and more. The imprints of her predecessors could be felt in the air as the small crowd waited for Lewis to get on the stage and join her voice among them.
Jenny Lewis kicked off the show with “Silver Lining” with the commanding presence of a ruler leading an anthem before delving into the first single of her latest effort, “Just One Of The Guys.” The stage was set very reminiscent of the dream-like video with decorations based off The Voyager’s standout suit and guitar, a style Lewis created alongside designer Adam Siegel for the album. She continues the whimsical pace with a smile of confidence alongside “Head Underwater” before jumping into the rocky guitar riffs of “Slippery Slopes.” The first part of the show ends with a bang before she sits down for a chat with Gary Calamar to discuss being forced to listen to Creed by Ryan Adams and how The Voyager has its own tiny run of wine.
Once the discussion ends, we jump right back in, this time indulging in an old-school sound. Lewis sings into the microphone with a jovial strut across the stage to Rilo Kiley favorite “Moneymaker,” then jumps into the blues-channeling “Next Messiah.” The singer makes the stage her playground during the two songs, leaning into the crowd and drawing hearts from her breath for her drummer on the plexiglass around his kit. She’s having a good time and spreading it out to her fans and the other members of her band on stage with her.
We break away from the energy for the stripped-down “Pretty Bird” followed by modern-day balled “Late Bloomer.” As she sings “She’s Not Me,” a song where she admits to being the foil to a relationship, it’s in this moment I begin to maybe understand how she’s able to speak openly with such honesty in her music. She’s pulled her insecurities out of her and transformed them into something to play with. Lewis is a woman who has carried fears – like all of us – but won’t let their echoes rattle her at her core.
The set closes out with an acoustic performance of “Acid Tongue” where the members of her band form into a choir, mixing their voices with her own. There was a lot of love showcased between the performers throughout the show so I found it extremely fitting they would end the evening side-by-side in a final harmony. “It just speaks to this person in me,” I overheard another patron tell her friend as we began to disperse from the room. I’ll take a gander and say the rest of us could agree. You can stream the performance now on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Electric.