With her girlish, shadow-tinged vocals, conversational lyrics, and stellar sense of style, Jenny Lewis has become an indie rock icon. Though she’s only been a recording artist for 15 years, Jenny’s career has been incredibly diverse; she has performed as a solo artist, as well as with Rilo Kiley, The Postal Service, and Jenny and Johnny, covering a wide range of music genres along the way. An actor as a child, she was featured in “The Wizard”, “Troop Beverly Hills” and “Pleasantville”, and guested on shows like “The Golden Girls“. She eventually left that profession after becoming increasingly more interested in music, and discovered a burgeoning talent for writing songs. Jenny’s acting experience later translated into her music videos, while her insider’s knowledge of Hollywood cropped up in her songwriting.
Jenny formed the band Rilo Kiley in 1998, with her then-boyfriend, Blake Sennett. He was also a former child actor, appearing in “Salute Your Shorts” and “Boy Meets World”. The band released their first album that year, as well as their first video, for “The Frug”. The video showcases Jenny’s natural charisma, as well as the band’s quirky late 90’s indie style.
Rilo Kiley had released two more albums when Jenny was asked to be part of The Postal Service’s album Give Up, a project spearheaded by Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. Jenny contributed backing vocals on several songs, and appeared with Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello in the futuristic video for “We Will Become Silhouettes”. She also toured with the Postal Service in 2003, and participated in their 2013 reunion shows.
Jenny returned to Rilo Kiley in time for their fourth album, 2004’s More Adventurous. This album brought the band their biggest success, and Jenny was featured prominently with more lead vocals and personal songs. The video for “Portions for Foxes” features louder guitars and a tougher Jenny:
Two years later, Jenny released her first solo album, a collaboration with the Watson Twins entitled Rabbit Fur Coat. On it, Jenny showcased her songwriting in a new way, with folk and country-tinged ballads performed with a soulful flair. She was open about her influences, which included Laura Nyro, Emmylou Harris, and various Laurel Canyon legends. The video for “Rise Up With Fists!” featured a set inspired by Hee Haw, and costumes from the Loretta Lynn school of country:
Jenny returned to the Rilo Kiley fold one more time, for their last album: Under the Blacklight. “Silver Lining”, with a guitar line lifted from George Harrison, proved to be perfect fodder for a video. Jenny plays a bride who is uncertain about her groom and her future, showcasing her acting skills:
With the breakup of Rilo Kiley, Jenny was free to return to her solo career. In 2008 she released Acid Tongue, which expanded on her previous record. This time she branched out, with heavier songs balancing out the folk and country. The video for “See Fernando” is a retro spy caper, allowing Jenny to be her most playful:
In 2010, Jenny teamed up with her current boyfriend, Johnathan Rice, to form the duo Jenny and Johnny. They released I’m Having Fun Now, an album heavily influenced by late 80s/early 90s indie rock. The video for “Big Wave” allows the couple to play off each other on the streets of Hollywood: