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Happy Hosting, Happy New Year - Rob Ellen
Texas singer-songwriter Tommy Lewis’ music is of the kind we could do with a whole lot more of filtering through. Warmed in pedal steel, fiddle, lead guitar and more it has a wonderful buoyancy. His blending of country with acoustic blues on the opening track “Salt Water Wine” holds the attention of the listener from first to last! On hearing it I mused to myself, this guy is something rather special. Though I wasn’t wrong, the directional of his music did change, immediately in fact as he dropped the simplicity of the acoustic blues in preference for a form of country music.
With his experience of playing lead guitar for Chad Elliott, and opening for the Radney Foster on a brief tour in 2016 to hand Lewis shares his stories (he also has a book out of Haiku poetry) in a fashion the listener finds easy to attach to.
Before that he played in and around Iowa, joining Rick Burke’s Traveling Music Show and Review in 2012, and from there Kevin Lindgren who was also a member of the convoy and himself started a band of their own. Next step he quit his job as a professor at Graceland University to become a touring folk singer.
Evoking imagery rich in the wide spaces of Texas and neighbouring state, New Mexico - Lewis enriches his singer-songwriter country with hints of folk on the beautiful “Reservations”, and though there is better songs on the record than pedal steel draped title-cut “Silver And Stone” it does have a certain pull on the listener. But, it is no matched for ace cut “Tulsa Tonight”; as far as his songwriting is concerned, and manner he performs the song Canadian veteran Ian Tyson would be proud to call it his! I love the way the lyrics, and vocals are propelled by a busy rhythmic beat.
Of a beautiful mellow feel you have “Sincerely” as he speaks of how he has always had a sensitive side to his soul, and with twangy guitar and pedal steel all over it an infectious feel runs through it. While loaded in melodious Dobro and acoustic picking Lewis is found wishing he was southbound (and returning to his love) on “Texas Southbound”, this as some of his finest story telling is captured. During the song that evokes images of wide open images and a little of life's gritty side it sounds like rambling is in his bloodstream. More top-class story telling is highlighted on the slow ballad “Carpenter”.
Rounding off the album, Lewis has in “Die Like A Poet” a tender, nicely pitched piece. With players Lynn Williams (drums), Dave Francis (bass), Thomm Jutz (acoustic, electric guitar), Fats Kaplin (pedal steel guitar) and Justin Moses (Dobro, fiddle) backing him to the hilt, and Jutz the producer his music is hard to beat. Of a standard that bodes well for both his future, and this kind of music in general. “You Don’t Go Away” set to a jaunty rhythm has Lewis who wrote all the songs, devote more time for reflection. The track is okay, but by his standard it isn’t his finest work. Be sure to watch out for UK (and Ireland for dates in 2018).
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