Express & Star

Sam Lewis, Solo - album review

Sometimes musicians can get very far on the sound of their voice alone.

The artwork for Sam Lewis's Solo by Jack Skivens

In the case of Sam Lewis, the Nashville-based musician can count the descriptions "soulful" and "molasses" as having been used to describe the smooth nectar that comes out of his voice box.

They're justified. His vocals are so comforting they should be captured, solidified and turned into nap-time blankets sold to parents of newborns so they can get a couple of hours of quiet of an afternoon.

If it is possible for somebody to sound like such a lovely chap through his vocal delivery then that is what is going on right here.

Lewis has a decade of touring behind him, mainly solo. His use of social commentary in a feel-good and light-hearted way takes the sting off of life a little bit. It's made him a success in front of audiences across the globe. And one of those is captured right here on his fourth release. Recorded in front of a live audience at Nashville's Southern Ground Studios, and produced by lewis himself alongside Brandon Ball, the atmospherics make the whole thing feel like you're sat in a plush living room - where Lewis has a history of playing by the way.

'Soulful' Sam Lewis Photo: Scott Housley

It's intimate, sweet and friendly. The audience clap politely but enthusiastically at the end of each track. They laugh along at his lyrical quips such as on the comical Neighbours, and they lap up his slight between-song patter.

Musically, he makes his acoustic guitar sound more powerful than most, yet without being showy or domineering. Tracks like I'm A River with its meandering, almost lazy melody are delightful to listen to. It's a slippers and cuppa kinda song. Reflective yet joyful. A pleasant journey from start to finish that shows the power of simplistic songwriting where you don't need big, intricate riffs to hold attention.

The country-flavoured Southern Greek Tragedy is more sorrowful in its delivery despite a more upbeat tempo. Lyrically sharp and, obviously, tragic, it shows Lewis's great storytelling talents.

This is a collection of both new material and some reworkings of his back catalogue. And for once, 19 tracks is not enough. You want more. And that is the greatest compliment of all that you can give an album.

Rating: 8/10

Sam Lewis will perform at Shrewsbury's Henry Tudor House on February 23 before heading to The Old Mill Smokehouse on February 26 in Leek, Staffordshire