From the dawn of his post-One Direction career, Harry Styles has exhibited quality taste in opening acts: His 2017 Live on Tour shows brought along Kacey Musgraves, Leon Bridges and Warpaint in various parts of the world.
That tradition extended to the recent announcement of his Love on Tour shows: Opening on all of Styles’ American tour dates next year will be Jenny Lewis, fresh off of the acclaim for this year’s On the Line.
“I’m so excited about it,” Lewis says from her current home base in Nashville. “I feel there’s so much wonderful good will toward Harry, and I’m super thrilled he asked me to join him. 2020, man.”
One would assume the two had spoken about it or were friends, but exactly how Lewis came to land this prime gig remains something of a mystery — even to Lewis herself. “We don’t know each other — I’ve never met him,” Lewis says. “I think he really likes On the Line.”
Does she know for a fact that he’s heard her album? “No, but I guess I’ll find out,” she says. “I have no idea!” (Styles was not available for comment at press time.)
Starting with her days in Rilo Kiley, Lewis has long been a compelling presence in the world of alternative Americana. It’s easy to imagine why Styles, who has one foot in modern times and another in roughly 1975, would take to On the Line. Lewis’ first album in five years was a bracing reminder of her skills: songs about romantic turmoil, sung in a voice that can sound both teary and determined, all set to tracks that recall pre-dance pop yet never sound retro.
Then again, maybe it has something to do with their similar album titles — his Fine Line and her On the Line. “Or similar color palettes,” Lewis says. “I think we’re both leaning into blue and pink.”
For someone who’s been relatively quiet the last few years (she briefly fronted a New York-based band, Nice as Fuck), Lewis will be having a high-profile 2020. In January, she’ll be heard on Let the Rhythm Lead: Haitian Song Summit Vol. 1, a collaborative album recorded in that country in 2016 and featuring contributions from Lewis, Jackson Browne, and the Head and the Heart’s Jonathan Russell along with local and international musicians. Lewis sings lead on one track, “Under the Supermoon,” about her trip to the often troubled Haiti, and contributed backing vocals and keyboards to other tracks.
But clearly Lewis’ stint with Styles — starting in June and wrapping up in September — will be taking precedence. “It’s an amazing opportunity,” she says. “I keep thinking of the thousands of little girls and young men and parents of those kids, and just being in a room with people hearing my songs I’ve been writing for so long. What an incredible opportunity. It’s cool opening for Pavement, which I’ve done, but that’s a whole other scene.”
Lewis says she hasn’t yet started prepping for it. “Oh, is it in six months?” she says. “I only work one or two days in advance.”