Published Mar 22, 2019"I've been searching for the heart to tell you something," Jenny Lewis offers on "Hollywood Lawn." "I could get down on my knees / I've had it with you trippers and drama queens."
That moment of negotiation — the liminal space between internal awareness and expressing those deeply felt sentiments — feels like as anchoring a statement as any here. On the Line finds Lewis taking stock of necessary exorcisms for struggles past and present. Its 11 songs also find her in exceptionally fine form: Lewis has always been capable of transmuting intensely internal and emotionally complex moments into affecting, effective pop songs. With On the Line, she leans into the deeply personal, and gains a benchmark addition to her catalogue.
Lewis wraps divulgences of drugs, family, loss, and longing in lush '70s rock and vintage singer-songwriter vulnerability. "Wasted Youth" is a druggy lament delivered in a playful, piano-led bounce that takes aim at both heroin and Candy Crush. "Red Bull & Hennessy" lets a rollicking guitar drive add urgency to its assessment of a relationship in decline. Here and elsewhere, the music surrounds its subject matter with vibrant tones that never simplify those sentiments — guests include a crack team of legendary session musicians, Ringo Starr, and production from the likes of Beck and Ryan Adams (who's since been accused of sexual misconduct and emotional abuse by multiple women).
Album highlight "Dogwood" lets rainy-day piano and a rising tide of instrumentation encircle a relationship that Lewis knows is someday doomed. "There's nothing I can do," she admits in a soaring croon, "'cause I fell in love with you."
On the Line is full of such raw realizations laid bare — it's Lewis squaring up a difficult period of her life with an affected but steady gaze. By the time upbeat closer "Rabbit Hole" affirms that "I'm not gonna go down the rabbit hole / With you again," she's never seemed more in command of it all. (Warner Bros.)