Jenny Lewis is back with her fifth solo album and once again the ex Rilo Kiley frontwoman has shown the world that she is without doubt one of the greatest living songwriters. Joy‘All is a collection of songs that sees Jenny reflecting on life, reaching midlife, accepting that there will always be sadness in life and there is nothing we can do about that. What we can do is always look for joy, despite the sadness there is happiness and joy in the everyday. Joy‘All captures the importance of looking for the beauty and light that is in this world, the importance of grabbing life by both hands and making the most of what we have.
Psychos opens the album with sweet melodies and vocals that you will fall in love with. The opening lyric perfectly sets the tone for the album “Life goes in cycles / It’s a merry go round”. The title track is next, and this is a song that will certainly leave you with a warm feeling of joy. The vocals, rhythms, and melodies all swoon around in such an infectious way. The lyrics takes us from a journey of being a teenager, feeling a bit unsure about life and learning as we grow “We get a little bit wiser everyday”. There is a great deal of inspiration to be taken from the lyrics “Follow your Joy ‘All / Joy‘All / I’m not a toy y’all / I got heart”. I will certainly be playing this song a lot to my 10 year old daughter and encourage her to find joy, and follow her heart.
Puppy and a Truck can lay claim to being the greatest song ever written about hitting mid-life “My forties are kicking my ass / And handing them to me in a margarita glass”. The song captures how we feel the need to get certain things when we reach mid-life in Jenny’s case it was a hypoallergenic puppy and a truck. I can certainly relate to the hypoallergenic puppy. The lyric “So I’m 44 in 2020 and thank god I saved up some money / Time to ruminate like, what the fuck was that?” will resonate with many of us who have reached that milestone.
Apples and Oranges could have come straight from the ‘70s. If anyone wants a masterclass in how to craft a song that keeps the listeners attention, allows the listener to focus on the lyrics, be amazed at how the sounds weave in and out and capture our hearts and imagination then spend as much time as you can listening to Essence of Life. This is an absolute genius piece of song-writing that gives further weight to the evidence that Jenny Lewis is one of the world’s greatest songwriters. After all of that we are then treated to Giddy Up, a song that is full of class. A song about taking chances in life, finding confidence in yourself to make decisions in life, not to sit around waiting for life to happen “Take a chance on a little romance / We’re both adults”. Cherry Baby has a summery vibe that allows us to escape from the world whilst gazing at the clouds.
Love Feel is a song that will be sure to lift your mood. This is the sound of an artist not taking themselves too seriously and in doing so creating a pop song that will make you smile. The Woo Woo that opens Balcony lays down the marker for this laid back, breezy pop song that manages to deal with the ending of a relationship in a mature and confident way “It’s never gonna be the way it used to be / You can’t unsee the search history”. Chain of Tears closes this perfect album in a perfect way, the gentle guitar and drums first appear, then Jenny joins with the spoken word “How do you say goodbye forever?” the song then builds into a heart-warming crescendo of sounds that will help you to find Joy.
I hope you all find time to let Joy‘All into your lives. If you like your albums to be full of honesty, full of emotions that you can relate to this album will give you all of that and more. It is lovely to hear this album and to conclude that Jenny Lewis is in a good place now. Reaching midlife can be a challenge for many, by this stage most of us will have had to deal with loss of some sort. Jenny’s last album On the Line (2019) dealt with the loss of her mother. This album sees Jenny continuing to live, and how we can always find things to live for and to celebrate. Joy‘All is certainly an album to celebrate.