Last month, Jenny Lewis released her fifth solo album, Joy’All, a musical guide – presented in 10 radiant songs – on how to empower yourself with happiness while getting through this painful thing called life. Produced by Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell), the release is full of classic country sounds while maintaining the California cool vibe that Lewis does so well.
A new album means a new tour and, after a festival stop in Milwaukee, Lewis kicked-off the Joy’All Tour with a blissful performance – presented by 93XRT and Jam Productions – at The Salt Shed in Chicago on Friday, July 7.
“So this is the first show of our Joy’All Tour. We played in Milwaukee yesterday at Summerfest, which was super dope, but this is a little bit radder,” she shared midway through the setlist.
“Psychos,” which opened the show, “Giddy Up,” and “Joy’all” proved that fans were more than ready to sing along with the new material, but it was the single “Puppy and a Truck” that connected most of all. Before unleashing the tune, Lewis playfully took a phone call from her canine muse, Bobby Rhubarb, promised to play the song momentarily, and asked fans to share a bark, “Hello,” to Bobby who was “on the line” backstage. The ode to pets and pick-ups soon began with simple strumming as Lewis sang, “My forties are kicking my ass,” with a commiserating grin.
In many ways, the song feels like a continuation of previous tracks like “Late Bloomer” – both in its composition and lyrical analysis of certain eras in one’s life – and “Just One of the Guys,” as Lewis returns to the theme of what it means to be a woman without kids. Instead of focusing on the label of being “just another lady without a baby” as she does on The Voyager track, “Puppy and a Truck,” finds Lewis leaning into the rootless freedom of being child-free and able to roll up with her puppy and a truck wherever she may roam. Chicago fans cheered in agreement with each passing line especially when she declared that getting “a puppy and a truck” is the perfect way to inject a “shot of good luck” into your life.
On top of all the new music, the setlist was filled with fan favorites from Lewis’ entire career. “She’s Not Me” was an early sing-along and, later, “Head Underwater” inspired the biggest dance party of the night as Lewis sang atop a pedestal with a built-in wind machine that blew back her hair like a radiant disco queen. Visually, the show conjured the old-school rock vibe of Elvis’ ’68 Comeback Special. Lewis, clad in a leather jumpsuit reminiscent of the one Presley famously wore, favored an acoustic guitar for much of the night which she strummed in front of a shimmering red backdrop. If you squinted, you could imagine LEWIS being spelled out in twinkling lights, ready for primetime.
Lewis was joined by an incredible band for most of the show and she hilariously took the opportunity to “introduce them” while waiting for her keyboard’s sustain pedal to get hooked-up. As the band members walked around the stage introducing themselves to each other – rather than the crowd – Lewis couldn’t help but chuckle.
“That’s a good one. I learned that from Merle Haggard,” she said.
The keys portion of the set was represented by “Heads Gonna Roll,” “Wasted Youth,” and “Dogwood” – which gave Lewis room to showcase the finesse of her vocals as the somber serenade built into a powerful recognition of love lost. Near the end of the night, balloons bounced across the crowd during “Little White Dove” and “Acid Tongue.”
Upon Joy’All‘s release, Lewis took to Instagram to make sure the term’s definition was clear. “Joy’all (/Joi/yol/) noun – 1. Joy to all 2. A feeling of great pleasure and happiness,” she wrote.
The Salt Shed show was proof positive that the new songs are doing exactly what they are intended to do as everyone left with a smile on their face and a “feeling of great pleasure and happiness.”
Relive the Joy’All by checking out the photos below – including shots of the show’s openers Hayden Pedigo and Jenny O. – and click here to pick-up tickets to future tour dates. More information about Jenny Lewis can be found at Jennylewis.com.
(Photos by Laurie Fanelli)