59°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Las Vegas native Jenny Lewis talks about her latest album

Her babysitter was a female Elvis impersonator.

Yeah, Jenny Lewis is from here.

But the glamorously bohemian singer-songwriter wasn’t just born in Las Vegas, she was born of Las Vegas.

Her parents met while auditioning for the same lounge band back in the ’70s, her mother a singer, her father a musician.

They’d perform at the Sands, the Sahara and the Tropicana together.

So show business was pretty much Lewis’ birthright, as if she was swaddled in lamé upon departing the womb.

Though she hasn’t lived in these parts since she was a little girl, these parts still live in her — right down to the glam-tastic blue-and-gold gown that Lewis sports on the sleeve of her latest album, “On the Line,” one of 2019’s most acclaimed records.

“When I’m in Las Vegas, I still feel the connection to my earliest memories,” says Lewis, 43. “I’m always sort of referencing that, and I don’t realize it. Like, the outfit I’m wearing on the cover of ‘On the Line’ is something almost identical to what my mother wore onstage.

“She somehow finagled Bob Mackie to make their costumes,” she continues. “I don’t know if Mackie made costumes for just anyone, but my mom convinced him. I pick out this outfit, shoot it, it ends up on the cover, it’s like this magical thing, and I’m thinking back to my mother’s costumes. And she had the same exact birthmark. So it’s a deep homage to my mother.”

The same could be said of “On the Line” itself — at least in places.

Catharsis you can move to

Lewis has described the album as a rebound record for two reasons: First, it was written in the wake of her breakup with her boyfriend of 12 years, fellow musician Johnathan Rice. Then there was the passing of her mother, Linda, who died from liver cancer in October 2017.

Both heavily inform the heavy emotions that power “Line,” the latter addressed poignantly on “Little White Dove,” a starkly funky number partially set in the hospital room where her mother spent the last days of her life.

“I’m your blood, I want more / The water from my eyes fell to the floor,” Lewis sings over drips of reverbed guitar, her voice slinky then sonorous as she works her way to the chorus of a song where sonics and sentiment seem at odds with one another.

“ ‘Little White Dove’ is so interesting, because it’s about this really heavy thing, but Beck, who produced it, brought this groove and feel,” Lewis says. “So it’s the danciest song in the set, and it’s so sad, yet hopeful. I love these juxtapositions where there’s catharsis, but you can also move to it.”

This duality defines much of “On the Line,” from the slo-mo disco of “Do Si Do” to the sprightly piano lines and chiming bells of “Party Clown,” a blown kiss to her wastrel ways of the past.

The tone is set by album opener “Heads Gonna Roll,” a beatific, mildly biting breakup song posited more on what was gained from the relationship as opposed to what was lost when it ended.

“Even though we were just friends, I think of us as bookends,” Lewis sings, dropping her voice into a husky purr. “And I’m gonna love you till I die.”

You will be clearing that lump from your throat shortly thereafter.

On the road, to resolution

Upon splitting with Rice, Lewis played vagabond for a time, traveling the country, staying with friends, figuring things out.

Eventually, these songs came to her, a process that ultimately spanned five years since the release of Lewis’ last album, 2014’s punchy, confident “The Voyager.”

“I’m always writing, and so I don’t always know what an album is until I get four songs in and then it makes sense to me,” Lewis says. “Once I wrote, ‘Heads Gonna Roll,’ which was early in the process, I knew that was the beginning of the story. Then the story unfolded in real life. The music reflected that.”

So Lewis chose to do so much emotional bloodletting in song.

Except that it wasn’t a choice, really.

“I think music pursued me. I didn’t pursue music,” says Lewis, a former child actress. “Music was a constant. My family, this is how we communicate.

“This is the only healthy way we know how to communicate,” she adds. “So I think music was just inevitable.”

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
EDC Las Vegas makes festivalgoers feel like family

Upon immersing oneself in the festival’s friendly fanaticism for three days, the question arises: Just what makes EDC elicit such a passionate response from many of its 450,000-plus annual “headliners”?