It’s a bit of a coincidence that both Jenny Lewis’s On The Line and Solange’s When I Get Home came out around the same time, since they both have the same approach to their album covers. In that they’re quite similar to the artist’s previous album, but dressed in different garb, while the album is a bit of a companion piece to the artist’s previous album. Fittingly, On The Line has a similarly breezy and beleaguered vibe to 2014’s The Voyager, and with Lewis having a few more years on her since then, she sounds a bit wiser, but also just as confounded by the impending doom of middle age.
Also like on The Voyager, she enlists the help of producer Ryan Adams (whoops), but also the likes of other veterans like Beck and Shawn Everett. And if Jenny Lewis didn’t already embody the sounds of L.A.’s musical yesteryear, she enlists the help of longtime Angelino musicians like studio veteran Jim Keltner, Heartbreaker Benmont Tench, and Ringo freakin’ Starr. As someone who not only has experienced the movie industry aspects of L.A. as a child actor, and also been a longtime observer of the music industry, she seems particularly well suited to sing about the L.A. lifestyle, and does so with maybe as much clarity as ever on On The Line.
Lewis has always been an astutely wry lyricist, and here her topics often include past ill-fated relationships with dudes that seemed more than a little bit lost. I suppose this subject matter reminds me a bit of the later albums by fellow indie redhead Neko Case, where these types of men aren’t looked back on with bitterness necessarily, but with a “that’s just the way love goes” outlook. Considering this kind of perspective is almost always the product of growing and learning, one can only hope Lewis continues to turn out gems like this every 5 years or so.