Joy’All, the fifth solo album from Jenny Lewis and follow-up to 2019’s critically acclaimed On The Line finds the singer-songwriter embarking on a new era in a new town—and on a new label, as she joins the iconic roster of Blue Note/Capitol Records.
“I started writing some of these songs on the road, pre-pandemic… and then put them aside as the world shut down, and then from my home in Nashville in early 2021, I joined a week-long virtual songwriting workshop with a handful of amazing artists, hosted by Beck. The challenge was to write one song every day for seven days, with guidelines from Beck. The guidelines would be prompts like ‘write a song with 1-4-5 chord progression,’ ‘write a song with only cliches,’ or ‘write in free form style.’ The first song I submitted to the group was ‘Puppy and a Truck.’” As the days progressed, the assignments kept coming in and Jenny ended up writing a good portion of Joy’All.
While Joy’All pulls from a bounty of sonic inspiration–from soul to ’90s R&B, as well as country and classic singer-songwriter records–the album’s rich and intimate, live sound is the hallmark of eight-time Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb (John Prine, Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell), whom Jenny met by chance while visiting Lucius at the historic RCA Studio A in Nashville. A natural kinship developed between the two, and with her arsenal of songs that she had demoed on her iPhone ready to roll, Jenny texted Dave and asked him to produce her new album.
“Dave works fast and we cut the bulk of the record with his incredible house band (Nate Smith, Brian Allen, and Cobb on guitar, and myself on acoustic guitar & vocals) live on the floor in a couple of weeks. Jess Wolfe came back to the studio to provide background vocals on the record and then Greg Leisz and Jon Brion added pedal steel, B-Bender guitar & Chamberlin, respectively, back in LA.”
For Jenny, putting the pieces of Joy’All together seemed almost serendipitous. Along with her fortuitous meeting with Dave Cobb, she was introduced to Greg Koller, who engineered and mixed the record and, coincidentally, works with Jon Brion–who graciously added to the album, much to Jenny’s delight.
The good luck kept coming. While shopping at Black Shag Vintage in Nashville, Bobbi Rich–frequent creative collaborator of Jenny’s–made an auspicious discovery. She happened to find an outfit that once belonged to Nashville songwriter Skeeter Davis, whose influence can be seen all over Joy’All. The ensemble became an essential centerpiece to the visual component of the record: “I wanted to riff on the classic Nashville album cover, with the song titles on the front. The cover photo is a reference to a Skeeter Davis record and I’m wearing her costume!”
Joy’All is a beacon of enlightenment that could only come from embracing life, taking the good with the bad; it’s a ten-song overture that invites the listener to find their own path to joy.