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TOM E. LEWIS

★★★★

OPENS AN HONEST, COLOURFUL STORYBOOK

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By James Cerche
14th February 2014
An important figure of the local and national arts scene, Tom Lewis has existed in a number of incarnations. On screen, stage and sound, Lewis has filled a variety of roles ranging from Othello to Aboriginal ambassador. He comes to us now with a finely crafted Australian folk record of the highest calibre. Both musically and vocally charming, 'Beneath The Sun' is honest, colourful songwriting at its most inviting.

Smoky and expressively voiced, Lewis recalls the likes of Waits and Kelly while maintaining his own uniquely Australian charm through an impressive musical spectrum. 'Can't Change Your Name' swings along with jazzy swagger as Lewis confronts the harsher realities of past and present under a loping horn section. The nations life's trials and tests run deeply throughout the album without ever falling into despair as Lewis balances the melancholy with a roguish optimism. “We can make it better beneath the sun,” he croons on 'Blue Shirt' beneath a playful clarinet. 'I Can't Make It On My Own' is a romantic murder ballad that finds completion through tasteful string arrangements employed alongside an already fantastically utilised horn section, both courtesy of Melbourne virtuoso Erkki Veltheim.

It would be more economic perhaps to come out and say that that whole record is beautifully crafted from a musical perspective. Lewis' band (including Daddy Cool's Ross Hannaford) provide the perfect accompaniment managing not just to serve, but to better the songwriting. It's a winning formula that comes to a head when the band kick through 'Cherie L'Amour' before a settling into an easy rendition of Australian Crawl's 'Reckless'.

Sunny, but laced with plenty of shade, 'Beneath The Sun' is the meeting of a fond storybook and a confessional self-portrait from one of Australia's most successful indigenous artists. Beautifully realised and thoroughly enjoyable.

FAST FACTS
BAND: Tom E. Lewis
MEMBERS: Tom Lewis
Ross Hannaford
Tony Floyd
Stephen Teakle
Craig Pilkington
Michael Hohnen
FROM: Melbourne
SOUND: Folk / Jazz / Blues
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