Lewis Taylor

Lewis II

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On his sophomore effort, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Lewis Taylor drives home the more muscular, up-tempo side of his prodigious gift. There are a couple of drummers on this set playing on selected tracks, and this outing also features a cover of Jeff Buckley's "Everybody Here Wants You." To start with this remake is significant. Taylor is deeply influenced by Marvin Gaye, and Buckley's tune was an obvious homage to Gaye. Taylor's reading of Buckley's reading of Gaye takes some interesting liberties with the tune. The guitars are more overtly psychedelic, without ever leaving the soul groove. The piano is icy, while Taylor's voice provides the fire: it's a stark contrast to Buckley's own performance, which consciously tried to keep everything firelight warm. It's as deeply moving without being desperate, and in this way ghosts Gaye, who sang everything, no matter how desolate, with the warmth and immediacy -- as if the sheer act of singing might take the darkness from a situation and place it in redemptive terrain. As for the album proper, it is kicked off by the moody dark funk of "Party," that forgoes all slinkiness for the razor wire tightrope walk of sheer sensuality and verve. The slide guitar mixed through the middle of the tune is soon covered over by the fuzzed-out, single-string lead guitar anticipating the vocal, and is as steamy as hell itself. On "My Aching Heart," the wah-wah whispers offer a window into a percussive funk that allows for need, want, and pleading while going after what it wants via Taylor's insistent vocal performance. On "You Make Me Wanna," a murky atmospheric groove insinuates itself just below the growling eroticism in the grain of Taylor's delivery. As evidenced by the tracks "Lewis II" and "I'm on the Floor," Taylor does some real sonic and textural experimentation here that makes this album not as immediately accessible as its predecessor. But that doesn't mean it's not as fine; it's just focused in a different way. Just check out the majestic balladry of "Satisfied," or the dubbed-out and spaced out "Never Gonna Be My Woman," or the positively swoon-worthy "Blue Eyes." Lewis II is a worthy follow-up that breaks plenty of new ground. It will be years before most punters catch up with its vision and courageous articulation.

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