TURNING 40 three years ago was a life-changing moment for singer and former child actress Jenny Lewis – and it was also when she started writing her fourth album On The Line.
She says: “I never had the opportunity to be independent as a child and never lived outside of Los Angeles, so at 40 I ran away to New York.
“My girlfriends (one ‘rescuer’ being St Vincent aka Annie Clark) took me in and I spent about a year there.”
And leaving LA after she had just ended a 12-year relationship with US-Scottish singer Johnathan Rice proved to be just the fresh start she needed.
On International Women’s Day in a central London hotel, she tells me: “I was on my own and it was empowering but also terrifying.
“I rented out my LA house so I couldn’t go back there. So my friends took me in wherever I went and I could go anywhere I wanted to on a whim.
Ryan Adams has been forced to pull his new album and tour amid sexual abuse allegations[/caption]
“The best relationship I’ve cultivated in the last three years is the one with my travel agent.”
On The Line is Lewis’s most personal album. And making it was a therapeutic process that took a couple of years.
She says: “The s**t gets real and realer and so the subject matter gets realer and that’s what my album was inspired by – life.”
While away, Lewis got a call that her mum Linda had liver cancer (she died not long afterwards) and went back to LA for a reconciliation – the two had been estranged for years because of Linda’s heroin addiction.
Jenny Lewis started writing On The Line three years ago and has been a therapeutic process for the artist[/caption]
“Cancer is brutal,” says Lewis. “I’m glad I was there for her as seeing someone go through it is painful.
“It’s not that I never liked her or was angry with her. Growing up, my mum was in and out of programmes and you learn about enablers and that you can’t really help people get clean without them wanting to.
“But when I got the call that she was poorly, it changed everything. That relationship with my mother was extremely difficult and complex but it usurped everything else.
“I’d been obsessing about my own romantic failures and living in that world of confusion and pain.
Her mum dying and her romantic failures led to Jenny writing Little White Dove[/caption]
“But this was the most important thing that will happen to me in life.”
The experience led to Lewis writing Little White Dove, with help from Beck.
Other collaborators on the brilliant record include Ringo Starr, Don Was, Benmont Tench, Jim Keltner and under-fire singer-songwriter Ryan Adams, who was recently forced to pull his new album and tour amid claims of sexual abuse.
Lewis says: “Those allegations were very upsetting, disturbing and sad, mostly for the women involved.
Jenny Lewis collaborated with Ringo Starr, Don Was, Benmont Tench, Jim Ketlner and Ryan Adams[/caption]
“But that part of the story doesn’t have anything to do with me. Everyone has tonnes of drama stories about him. Everyone knows that.
“If you went to one of his shows, he was either on or off, or whatever. I’ve never had bad dealings with him in that sort of way, but this is serious stuff and potentially criminal.
“I made my statement, which I was very careful with, but I do think that this is an important dialogue.
“I didn’t set out to be a part of the discussion, but I have a unique perspective and I think it’s really important that we figure it out moving forward and define how it is going to be and that we are not going to tolerate it.”
Jenny Lewis explains how Ryan Adam ‘bailed’ on her and left her before finishing her record[/caption]
What Lewis will say about Adams is that, like on her previous album The Voyager, he “bailed” without finishing his work as producer.
She says: “My last record The Voyager was produced by Ryan, but he’d gone before it was finished but Johnathan (her former partner) was there to help me finish it.
“This time I had to finish it without him, so I reached out to Beck after I wrote all these new songs and we reconvened in the studio. I think it happened like that for a reason.
“I needed to finish it on my own and it’s a better record as a result. Beck is a good man and I trust him musically and also as a friend. He has been a mentor to me.”
Beck also worked on tracks Do Si Do and Rabbit Hole, while Starr played on Red Bull & Hennessy and Heads Gonna Roll, the first singles from the record.
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“Ringo came on through Don Was, who plays bass on the album,” says Lewis.
“I’d never met Ringo before and he was meant to play on just one track but stayed for another. I have to say, playing with a Beatle takes it to another level.
“I travel around the world, people ask me what I do for a living. The next time I tell them I’m a musician and they say, ‘Oh, never heard of you’, I can say, ‘Well guess who plays drums on my record?’.”
- On The Line is out on March 22.
- Jenny Lewis – On The Line ★★★★★
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