LEWIS & LEIGH - GHOST
LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Release Date: 26th August, 2016
Genre: Celticana (Country, Folk and Americana)
Band: Al Lewis (Vocals, Guitars), Alva Leigh (Vocals, Keyboard), Tom Hoben (Fiddle), Matt Ingram (Drums, Percussion and Keyboards), CJ Jones (Drums) and Nick Pini (Bass).
Location: North Wales/Mississippi USA
Record Label: Celticana
We have been big fans of Al and Alva's, since they first met back in 2014 and released their debut EP. The musical partnership is a combination of two very talented singer-songwriters in their own right. Al Lewis is from North Wales and Alva Leigh is from Mississippi, hence the genre 'Celticana'. Their music is a blend of Folk, Country and Americana and works very well. One thing is for sure, they certainly bring out the best in each other with excellent songwriting and wonderful close pure harmonies. Their impressive debut album ‘Ghost’ celebrates the differences in their individual experiences whilst finding common ground. Tales of small town life, the 'ghosts' left behind and their hopes & fears for the future.
Al and Alva started with no real plan in mind. What began as a casual songwriting session through a mutual Nashville friend has become three EPs and now a debut album in a little over two years. Before the duo was formed they had both been doing the solo artist thing for a while, but suddenly the prospect of joining forces appealed to them. They were bonded through the love of the same music & artists and found they had a lot in common.
'Ghost' consists of ten original tracks with three included on their previous EP's, although some of these are new re-recorded versions. The album was produced and engineered by Matt Ingram at Urchin Studios. The album was also supported by a pre-sale and crowdfunding campaign through Pledge Music.
The album begins with the reflective 'There Is A Light' begins a cappella and then the harmony vocals are joined by gentle percussion, keyboard and bass. You are transported to the Southern states on the Gulf coast, sitting on the back porch with magnolia trees and Azalea blooms looking out over the bayou. We really like the video for this one, a simple idea of two black and white semi-merged images, but it is very effective. It's also used as the theme for the album cover.
First released on their 'Missing Years' EP in 2015, 'Rubble' is merging of two stories one US, one Welsh with a common theme. The aftermath of natural & man-made disasters and events and the positive power of recovery. One first deals with the destruction of a small town on the southern US Gulf Mississippi coast, connected to the personal story of a failed marriage. The story then shifts to the Welsh valleys and the destruction of the mining industry by the government policy of the time. With the positive message "When the walls fall before your eyes. You built it back up again.....stone by stone." The song ends on the very personal "My Roots are in the valley, My folks married in that church, The banker's boy was my daddy and I'll be buried in this earth....underneath the rubble"
With it's very good strong electric guitar bassline and percussion 'Keep Your Ghost' reminds us a little of Fleetwood Mac. Some very clever lyrics which provide a motif for the rest of the album "I hold a mirror to the past. I never saw you quite like that.....stolen truths to hide behind....Time has a tendency to fossilize my memories. How can I keep your ghost on my side?" I have an image in my mind. How I wish it wasn't black and white. All of your colours buried deep. Hidden truths that cannot speak"
One of our favourite Lewis & Leigh tracks is 'Heart Don't Want' originally included on their 2015 'Hidden Truths EP. The track has been re-recorded for the album, but unfortunately it's missing the original brass section piece at the end of song and has new percussion. Without these original elements we think the album version is slightly weaker than the EP version. We have included the EP version in the video below.
We really like the gentle and reflective train song and one of the lead singles 'The 4:19'. It's almost a little Beatleque at time. Some lovely and well written lyrics including "Fields roll past my window frame and I'm wondering how far I should go, until one of these stations starts to feel like home"......."I think about the other life I could've had if I tried. But would it have been a lie"
With it's distorted resonator guitar lead, bass and piano backing 'Piece Of Gold' is a swamp blues track. Again very reflective "Am I just a pawn in a game of win and lose. So this piece of gold is it bought or sold. To the one who craves it the most. Do I sacrifice the family life, for a dream that could be so far down the line.?....These rules are made to be broken"
Another very strong song and firm favourite the 'Devil's In The Detail' first appeared on their second EP 'Missing Years'. "Looking from afar we're perfect as we are. But get up close and see.....The devil's in the detail of you and I"
Probably the weakest track on the album is 'Heartbeat' with it's off-beat electronic beats and percussion. It doesn't really work as well as the rest of the album for us and we would have preferred to see a stronger track from the previous EP's instead (Paradise, What Is There To Do, All Night Drive, Say You Miss Me etc). The reflective theme continues in 'Losing Time', "I've been talking the long way lately, getting nowhere fast....guess I'm losing time". The album finishes with the thoughtful and delicate love song 'Whiskey & Wine'. Some lovely soft picked acoustic guitar underpinning Al and Alva's showcase harmonies.