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FORMIDABLE Adult rock for a young audience

"I'm not the same woman that you are used to," warns Jenny Lewis on Head Underwater, the opening track of her first solo album in six years.

Not that she's been slacking since the blast of spiky psych pop that was Acid Tongue. Ms Lewis is industrious.

She recorded an album, Jenny and Johnny, with her boyfriend and wrote soundtracks for a couple of movies. She's toured with Postal Service and recorded with various other artists including Brandon Flowers (The Killers), Rostam Batmanlij (Vampire Weekend) and Wavves.

Lewis is a formidable talent. A child actress, she kept the family together after her father left by 
appearing in countless TV shows from Life with Lucy to Baywatch, and several teen movies 
including The Wizard. Eventually she quit acting to pursue her first love, music.

She formed the band Rilo Kiley with another former child actor, her then boyfriend Blake Sennett. Their ability to cloak provocative lyrics in melodic indie jingle-jangle was best illustrated on More Adventurous. Elvis Costello was just one who sang the praises of Ms Lewis. The band ran out of road in 2011, by which time Lewis had already recorded two solo albums.

There's a sense that this 10-track collection 
is likely to become a big album. It's produced 
with aplomb by Ryan Adams, who finds a 
niche for a luxurious modern West Coast sound that fits somewhere between Tom Petty and 
Fleetwood Mac.


Sonically there's nothing revolutionary here. But the album's attraction is surely the manner in which teasing lyrical narratives are delivered as radio-friendly power pop.

The industry term Adult Oriented Rock could have been coined for this set. Even the Paisley Underground romp Late Bloomer, a tale of winding up in a menage a trois in Paris as a teenager, is viewed with wistful nostalgia from the safety of impending middle-age. Jenny is 38 and her father died during the recording of The Voyager, so even allowing for artistic licence there's a sense of stock-taking in these compositions.

Slyly-infectious, the album's most intriguing song, Just One of the Guys, is produced by Beck. It ranks as Lewis's best yet, wittily dealing obliquely with a topic that can be a real concern. "All our friends, they're getting on, but the girls are still staying young," she drawls before defining herself as "Just another lady without a baby".

The loping She's Not Me ("I heard she's having your baby") does inner turmoil dressed as sweet confection better than anyone since Stevie Nicks.

Produced by Lewis, You Can't Outrun 'Em was inspired by meditations on family ties and her father's death. "I'm living proof that history repeats." It's the most indie-sounding track of the album. The meaty riff that underscores Love U Forever is sure to get picked up by some TV sports show.