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Jenny Lewis: On the Line overview – gripping, subversive, bittersweet | Music

What do you do when you break up with your partner of 12 years? You leave your native California and crash at Annie (St Vincent) Clark’s in New York.

Jenny Lewis is a songwriter’s songwriter, a dulcet and subversive chronicler of LA shammery whose often sombre subjects come wrapped in the sweetest of country-tinged deliveries. To her breakup we can add the death of her mother (who featured on 2006’s stunning Rabbit Fur Coat). More recently, Lewis tweeted her solidarity for the women accusing her former collaborator, Ryan Adams, of abusive behaviour.

So often, Lewis’s organising motif is a kind of unbearable lightness of being female, delivered with a wink, a love of classic rock and, here, a picture of her cleavage on the cover. Her incisive storytelling is at the fore on Heads Gonna Roll, which describes a road movie with “a narcoleptic poet from Duluth”. Ringo Starr plays drums on it, such is Lewis’s back-channel clout.

More gripping vignettes follow. “He left me for a superfan called Carolin-ugh,” runs On the Line; most bluntly, on Dogwood, “there’s nothing we can do but screw.” The overarching mood cannot help but be bittersweet.

Listen to Wasted Youth by Jenny Lewis.

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