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Jenny Lewis Entertainingly Shows Depth at Terminal 5

November 6th, 2014

Jenny Lewis – Terminal 5 – November 5, 2014

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(Photo: Eddie Bruiser)

In the years since Jenny Lewis’s band Rilo Kiley broke up, she has become a bona fide solo artist, honing and sharpening her songwriting skills and delivering her lyrics with a signature hint of twang and melancholy. In support of The Voyager, Lewis’s latest solo record, last night the artist treated a sold-out Terminal 5 to a lively, rainbow-hued evening of material from the album, complete with crowd-pleasing detours down memory lane to some Rilo Kiley favorites.

As an onstage presence, Lewis is confident and eminently jovial—strutting and posturing playfully during “Just One of the Guys” and “The Next Messiah,” and regaling the crowd with a comedic story that inspired to the vacation-gone-awry song “Aloha & the Three Johns.” Lewis’s fun-loving stage persona during these moments was an interesting counterpoint to the themes within much of her musical output over the years—songs that explore a cynical or wistful take on love and marriage, personal insecurities and perceived failures. The inner life that emerged in these songs added a layer of depth and intrigue to the stage show’s cheerful pop veneer while also providing a nice hint of irony during certain moments, particularly when large colorful balloons cascaded down on the crowd like giant gumballs as Lewis sang “Love U Forever,” a song with subtext far bleaker
than the title suggests.

Lewis closed out the night with The Voyager’s “She’s Not Me,” a completely catchy breakup song with an easy-listening vibe that nonetheless simmers with a certain sadness on the album. Yet when Lewis performed the number last night, smiling and dancing with her band, it felt much more empowering, almost triumphant—another example of the performer’s many understated complexities. —Alena Kastin

(Jenny Lewis plays the Space at Westbury tonight.)