2014 has been busy for actor and musician Tom E. Lewis. Currently on tour with The Shadow King, an indigenous retelling of King Lear, his first record in five years has just been released on Skinnyfish, the small label behind the big name of Gurrumul.
Where The Shadow King tells its dark tales darkly, Beneath The Sun obscures them in light yet insightful songs you will hum and sing along to before realising ‘I Can’t Make It On My Own’, for example, is about a man who murders his wife. “It’s mango season and this couple are up late drinking … and he goes nuts and chops her up,” explains Lewis.
An effortless depth pervades songs like ‘Open Road’ too, where Lewis’s voice summons the husky wisdom of latter-day Leonard Cohen. “You can leave me anywhere you like”, he sings, innocuous words that deepen, on repeat listens, into a comment about his proud connection to a land that will protect and lead him safely home from “anywhere you like”.
Effortless, too, is how these songs traipse blues, country and jazz, with a splash of zydeco’s pace, and a supporting cast of banjo, dulcimer, fiddle, brass and reeds. You could pub-dance to the country-rock stomp of ‘Angels’, slow-dance to the last-drinks languor of the jazzy ‘Cherie L’Amour’, or ruminate alone to the brooding bluegrass of ‘Come Take My Tides’.
(on Skinnyfish Music)
Like this? Try these: Sunshine After Rain, Tom E. Lewis; The Miracle, Leonard Cohen.