There must be a curse on child actors. Usually, once they grow up and lose their impish appeal, they're done - just not cute anymore. People stop paying attention and it's difficult, if not impossible, to adjust. The real world is unmanageable and the acting doors are all closed. At that point it's smart to move on, which is exactly what Jenny Lewis did. While she was still getting a few acting roles (see the last of her film credits above) she segued to music.
In '98, she formed Rilo Kiley with Blake Sennett (guitar/vocals), Pierre De Reeder (bass) and Dave Rock (drums). Rock was later replaced by Jason Boesel.
The Las Vegas born Lewis came by her performing instincts naturally. Her parents had a Vegas lounge act and her mother's Country music collection was a major influence. Lewis was particularly drawn to Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, and later Lucinda Williams because of their strong female viewpoint.
Lewis began venturing outside Rilo Kiley in '02 contributing vocals to The Postal Service's "Give Up" album, Sub Pop's most successful release since Nirvana's debut, "Bleach." The group was a side project of Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard (and producer Jimmy Tamborello). Lewis continued to work intermittently with other artists.
Rilo Kiley's '04 album "More Adventurous" was a breakthrough. Many attributed the success to having Lewis sing lead on more tracks (on earlier albums, Sennett contributed about half the vocals). As Rilo Kiley was on the rise, Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes suggested Lewis make a solo album. '06 release "Rabbit Fur Coat" was the result.
For this project, Lewis teamed with the Kentucky born, L.A. based, Watson Twins, Chandra and Leigh. The twins had worked with Rilo Kiley, among others.
The album also featured contributions from Oberst, Gibbard and Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine on a remake of the Traveling Willburys' (George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne) "Handle With Care."
Meanwhile, Rilo Kiley was signed by Warner Brothers, putting the group on a major label. That led to opening for Coldplay in '05.
Two years later, Rilo Kiley issued "Under The Blacklight." Lewis then unfurled her second solo album, the '08 set "Acid Tongue."
Lewis' next project was neither a solo nor Rilo Kiley effort. She and boyfriend/long-time collaborator Johnathan Rice issued "Scissor Runner" as free download on their site. They had contributed to each other's solo records and live shows and were one of indie Rock's more notable couples.
Having completed demo sessions in L.A. with Rilo Kiley's De Reeder, Lewis and Rice recorded "I'm Having Fun Now" at ARC in Omaha playing nearly all the instruments.
When the '10 album landed promo materials made it clear the set was a Jenny and Johnny creation. And that was how it was listed on the album.
With help from Beck and Ryan Adams, Lewis issued "The Voyager" in '14. The Beck-produced "Just One Of The Guys" was the lead single.
2006 Rabbit Fur Coat (w/ the Watson Twins)
2008 Acid Tongue
2010 I'm Having Fun Now (w/ Johnathan Rice)
2014 The Voyager
Jenny Lewis has an incredible voice. She brings passion yet delicate control to often testy lyrics. It's an unusual combination but a compelling one.
Though she inhabits the Alt. Rock space, Lewis also has a knack for employing Folk and Country elements.