It was only by chance that I happened to hear Sam Lewis’ most recent album “Loversity” (yes, he did make that word up!) and after playing it non-stop for a couple of weeks I found he was playing a few dates in the UK which prompted a trip down the M20 in heavy driving snow to see him in the flesh. It was definitely worth the effort. On record, the American singer-songwriter is accompanied by a team of Nashville session musicians, which on “Loversity” result in some really nice arrangements with melodic and interesting guitar fills adding to the melodic and catchy collection of songs, which can be summed up as being very classy indeed. It was slightly disappointing at first to find that he was playing a solo acoustic set, however any doubts were dispelled once his set began.
Revelation is a unique venue; a beautiful church in fact of ancient vintage, with fantastic acoustics, a good sound system and, glory be, decent stage lighting! Manned by a group of enthusiastic volunteers the venue had a very chilled vibe (as well as being quite chilly on this particular night as the heat from the few electric heaters dissipated towards the medieval ceiling). Preaching from the altar on this occasion the double denim wearing Texan (not many get away with it but he did!) created an instant rapport with the appreciative audience, introducing each tune with a short story and displaying an easy charm and perfect comic timing as he dryly added pithy comments to song descriptions. Chatting to him during the interval confirmed that he is a genuinely likeable, unpretentious chap, who also happens to be a mega-talented songwriter.
His voice has that quality of appearing deceptively as if he is hardly singing at all, a lovely rich smooth melodic tone that could be described as being in the middle ground between country and southern blues tinged soul. The country connection reinforced by his move to East Nashville to become part of that scene, although he described himself during the set as being a songwriter first and foremost, irrespective of any genre. The quality of his songwriting was evidenced by the rich vein of high quality mainly self-penned songs he was able to draw on for his performance, despite him having released only a relatively small number of solo albums to date. As someone who doesn’t normally pay a lot of attention to lyrics it was immediately obvious that Sam Lewis writes thoughtful, interesting and memorable words that stick in the memory. “In my Dreams” from his eponymous titled album being a case in point with its line “If you don’t want me in your dreams, then you stay out of mine” which is neat and poignant. Every song he played was a minor gem: “Great Ideas” is a real ear-worm of a tune with its refrain “take some of our great ideas, help each other put them in motion, we won’t always be here, if we never start a commotion.” The majority of songs came from the really superb “Loversity” (well worth adding to your collection) as well as the album he jokingly described as being his Greatest Hits, “Waiting On You”, from which opening track “3/4 time (“I can’t wait ‘till the sun comes up, I’ve got dreams that will fill my cup, finding nothing wrong with yesterday’s wine, taking the day in ¾ time”) and the delicately picked “Virginia Avenue” were taken. Even his guitar playing had an interesting quality that matched the depth of his singing. This was a really entertaining evening with top quality songwriting on display. If there’s any justice you will be reading a lot more about the amiable Sam Lewis in the future; definitely catch him if you can, I know I will be tracking him down again.