MP3 Richard Lewis - 12 hours
Warma and soulful songwriter with a unique and powerful sound
12 MP3 Songs
POP: Piano, JAZZ: Jazz Vocals
The UK songwriter Richard Lewis has a unique and powerful sound. With his outstanding vocals, piano and guitar backed up by double bass and human beatbox, the 26-year old former poet cuts aross genres with his soulful melodies, jazz-fuelled changes, deep beats and lush string sections.
His latest album ''12 hours'' was recorded in a converted medieval church within the walls of the ancient city of Canterbury.
Finely structured songs such as ''Night Owl'' and ''Lamplighter'' set the scene for a mesmerising journey through the twelve hours of the night, with songs such as ''Magpie'' and ''The Great Unknown'' splintering with light the darkness of more mellow, thoughtful tracks such as ''Lake'' and ''Weigh My Heart''.
Below is just some of the critical acclaim for Richard''s music:
"Classy" (Robert Plant)
"An outstanding performer, with a unique sound that moves from the epic soundtrack to the intimate with ease" (Bern Leckie, Programme Controller for Chill/Core Radio)
"Through the recent downpour of sentimental, style-drenched singer-songwriters, the music of Richard Lewis comes like a bolt of blue sky. If his debut album is anything to go by, the 26-year-old troubadour from Kent is set to start a whole new storm of his own.
Lewis’s age is deceptive, with songs that are shot through with the experience of someone well beyond his years. Watching him live on stage (as I had the fortune to do at his March gig at Bush Hall) he delivers every line with the passion and conviction of someone who has lived through the stories that he has to tell.
And this is storytelling - but not as we know it. Each Richard Lewis song has the effect of a short film, a piece of 8mm footage that has been sliced from real life and kicked around the cutting-room floor, eventually to be found a melody and projected upon a series of freshly-found chords.
As a scriptwriter, Richard Lewis is hard to beat - as you would expect from a published poet. It is his lyrics and his voice that play the starring role in his most memorable songs. This means that a track such as ‘Night Owl’ (in which an insomniac’s night-wanderings are brought alive through perhaps the most extraordinary of all Lewis’s vocal performances) can still contain enough drama to fill the largest of theatres, despite the band (comprising of acoustic guitar, double bass and beatbox) providing the most minimal of stage-scenery.
As the bird on the cover of his debut album 12 hours suggests, ‘Night Owl’ seems to be the key song of the collection, in which the twelve hours of one night appear to unfold, one after another, like a series of vivid and beautiful dreams.
But Lewis is no ordinary dreamer. Apparently self-funded and pressed while the songwriter was still making ends meet by busking the streets of his home town, his debut album 12 hours shows the kind of unapologetic independence and ambition that makes record executives sweat, to the point of hanging up their suits and requesting early retirement.
On tracks such as ‘In Disguise’ and ‘International Arrivals’, smart, incisive lyrics meet seemingly-familiar melodies around warm piano chords, and dance together upon a bed of lush, velvety orchestral strings.
In ‘Lamplighter’ and ‘Chameleon’ the dance picks up speed, with Andy Shedden’s compelling beatbox adding rhythm to Andy North’s already-percussive double bass, yet still leaving that all-important vocal line the space to breathe.
Track five of the collection (‘Lake’) sees Lewis leaving his comfort-zone of live (yet flawless) chemistry-fuelled performances captured on tape. It features programmed beats from Laurel Collective producer-drummer Charlie Andrew, which add a high-definition twist to this particular motion picture.
But what about the man behind the music?
Having missed him backstage at the Bush Hall gig, I had to make do with scanning his album sleeve for hints. Alongside the stunning illustrations by the painter Kasia Pawlikowski, there were just a few clues: the dedication of the CD to his late mother; the acknowledgement for his three-year old stepson – a thank you for the ‘early mornings’ which no doubt provided the material for the track entitled ‘Lullaby’.
However, just as the most enduring songwriters of the last half century have thrown every piece of themselves and more into their songwriting, so it is with Richard Lewis. And this means that no tabloid-ready, tear-jerking editorial can come close to revealing as much about the man himself than the songs themselves – soulful, sincere, and drenched through with the passion of real life. (James Navarro, Moon Life Magazine, April 2007)