An old showbiz axiom says that singers want to be actors and actors want to be singers. There are similarities. To succeed in either acting or singing a person has to get into character and understand the full weight of the words being spoken or sung. Easy, right? Very few manage it.
Juliette Lewis was born in L.A. Her dad, Geoffrey, was an actor so her future seemed preordained. Lewis began acting at age six and in '91 she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Martin Scorsese's Cape Fear. Lewis also appeared in What's Eating Grape (with Johhny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio), Romeo Is Bleeding and Natural Born Killers.
Along the way, Lewis veered toward music. But rather than produce glam Hollywood pop/trash she formed a backing band, The Licks, and recorded decidedly Punk-oriented albums.
"Like A Bolt Of Lightening" (2005), "You're Speaking My Language" (2005) and "Four On The Floor" (2007) won favorable reviews - partially for going against the grain/expectations. They were also killer albums which often got lost in the "Hollywood star turns Punk" storyline.
Lewis parted company with The Licks in '09 and formed a new group, The New Romantiques, to record "Terra Incognita."
"Terra Incognita" brings up the question: "Why change?" Early in her career, Lewis was compared with Patti Smith. Good place to be. "Like A Bolt Of Lightening," "You're Speaking My language" and "Four On The Floor" are gems. Blender magazine's praise was spot on when they wrote, "[She] delivered sonically varnished melodic Punk replete with purring vocals and lyrics that bash porn, pharmaceutical companies and rotten lovers (in no particular order)."
Not only are The Licks gone but The New Romantiques are a pale replacement. Many songs on "Terra Incognita" are unfocused electro-noise. Then there's Lewis. For much of the album she trades her Smith chops for a pair of Bonnie's; Raitt ("Uh Huh") and Tyler ("Ghosts") with a dash of Janis Joplin ("Hard Lovin' Woman"). The Punk flavored two-shot of the title track and "Fantasy Bar" plus the melodic pop-oriented "Uh Huh" and "Junkyard Heart" keeps the album afloat. But Lewis' previous albums are far superior.