Black Joe Lewis' 2013 studio album, Electric Slave, picks up on the barebones blues and old-school R&B of his 2011 release, Scandalous. As with his previous releases, including his 2007 self-titled debut and 2009's Tell 'Em What Your Name Is, Lewis favors a shoot-from-the-hip, lo-fi brand of vintage soul. And while he still peppers his rock anthems with flourishes from an adept jazz-informed horn section, Electric Slave is his most primitive album to date. Lewis has always subscribed to the "shout on key" school of rock vocals, and Electric Slave finds him as bellicose and rowdy as ever, settling into a mix of Skip James' Southern drawl, James Brown's lustful rasp and Iggy Pop's snotty yawp. Often times, listening to Lewis hold court over his band's bombastic, fuzz-laden grooves, as on "My Blood Ain't Runnin' Right" and the mod rock inflected "Hipster," you often simply get the gist of what he's saying via grunts and half-enunciated proclamations. When you do finally catch on to what he's singing about, as on the ebullient lead-off single "Come to My Party," his mush-mouthed enthusiasm works to amp up your own inclinations to party down. Similarly engaging are Lewis' handful of delirious and mud-caked tunes, including the old-school rave-up "Young Girls," the slow groove "Make Dat Money," and the swirling, funk-infused "Golem." Ultimately, while neither a true blues musician, nor a neo-soul crooner, Black Joe Lewis is pure energy on Electric Slave.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar