In a world where roots music seems to be going through a watering down process to try and make it seem “cool” to the “kids,” where words like alt-, anti- and post- get attached to generic labels which have done the job just fine for years, Sam Lewis is like a breath of fresh air. Why? Because Solo is just that, a man, an acoustic guitar, a bag of songs and some stories to tell. Why can’t it always be this simple. Where folk begins and country ends is irrelevant really, when the music is stripped this bare it becomes sort of both…or neither…or perhaps more importantly, inconsequential.
Solo, is the perfect calling card for his bare bones show, and due to my tardiness I have to admit that his European tour has been and gone, probably just in the nick of time given the state of the world at the moment, but Solo is a wonderful album in its own right too. A 19-song show recorded last year in Nashville, the place which he now calls home, it is the space that makes the songs stand out so well. Well, that and the fact that they are damn good songs to begin with. But the fact that there is lots of air percolating around the notes, that the words have room to linger and fade before the next line comes along makes everything more effective.
Runaway Bride is a great example of this understated grace, Never Again is a gently lilting slice of loveliness and Things Will Never Be The Same explains why he has been dubbed “a modern Townes Van Zandt.” Solo is a reminder that it is all about getting the basics right, do that and you don’t have to add much else to the song…or anything at all for that matter.