It’s unfair to automatically dismiss music made by Hollywood stars as novelty, but Juliette Lewis’ rocker persona is so over-the-top that it always felt intentionally tongue-in-cheek. Whether imitating hair bands, punk bands, or roots-rockers, Lewis’ shameless vamping, screaming, and crooning didn’t ask to be taken seriously as much as it asked for audiences to have fun and play along. So what to do with Terra Incognita, a solo effort that ditches backing band The Licks, for an album that does want to be taken seriously? Lewis impressively embraces the dramatics of producer Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (of The Mars Volta), who takes Lewis into surprisingly dark territory. Keeping the hyperactive energy, but no longer sounding like she’s singing from the corner of a bar, Lewis convincingly mixes guttural aggression and haunting sonic effects. However, the songwriting is mostly nonexistent, and some tracks are puzzling non-fits (including the bluesy, classic-rock throwback “Hard Lovin’ Woman” and country-pop-esque “Uh Huh”) that destroy any consistent atmosphere. But to her credit, in aiming for genuineness, she’s at least going about it the right way.

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