If ever there were an award for “most quotable” show of 2018, I figure Sam Lewis’ LOVERSITY release show would be among the (presumably) esteemed finalists. Granted, I’m not sure what sort of awards program would actually dive to such a granular depth of which “most quotable” would actually serve as a proper superlative, but I suppose that’s beside the point.
The moral of the story is that Sam Lewis maintains a presence somewhere between Mark Twain’s witticism and Townes Van Zandt’s wax poeticism (minus the occasional dourness). Or in less allusory terms, Sam Lewis is a clever, quippy front man with some solid tunes to boot, thus the proposed candidacy for a fictitious “most quotable” award.
Now that we’ve gotten a lede’s worth of awards show make believing out of the way, let’s focus on the ends that justify the means that is Sam Lewis’ high quip percentage coupled with an outstanding live set. As referenced earlier, the reason the gathering at 3rd & Lindsley was not an act universal serendipity, but rather, a convening of many a Sam Lewis fan, in celebration of his newest (and an exceptional one, at that) LP, LOVERSITY.
Sure, I could have just said it was for the release show, but would that wouldn’t have been nearly as fun as shouting out the idea of universal serendipity. But I digress…. LOVERSITY is a damn fine record, and one more than worth celebrating. While it’s not out of left field in terms of Lewis’ overall oeuvre, it’s certainly a departure from the standard troubadour fare that one might expect from an increasingly tenured artist such as Sam Lewis.
I could be making this up, but if memory serves, there’s a widely prescribed notion in music that most artists “branch out” on their third album - Nirvana’s In Utero, Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP, U2’s War, The Boss’ Born to Run, Sturgill’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill, Shania’s Come On Over, you get the picture - in turn hitting their proverbial career “stride.” I’d reckon that LOVERSITY will be the same for Lewis.
While I won’t do Lewis the disservice of making some sort of direct comparison, I will say that the album is of such a caliber, one can only assume Lewis wants to maintain such a standard of excellence in his future recording. And it sure does show in his live sets. For someone who gets lumped into the ever deepening pool of Americana artists, such a descriptor would be a grave injustice to the level of care and quality he and his backing band exhibit during their set. It’s honestly something to marvel at (probably an understatement), as they meld funk with country with rambling man run downs garnished with R&B flourishes. Incredibly pocket.
Now, I realize that to this point, I’ve championed the Marvel Cinematic Universe level of quipiness that Lewis possesses, but haven’t given as much as a quote. That changes now. It’s apparent that Lewis is an incredibly thoughtful individual, which is most readily evidenced through his songwriting, but as it would turn out, he’s unafraid to express his views in general (though that’s expected from witty people).
Being one of the more central characters in the Venn Diagram that is the (occasionally) politically perilous cross-section of Americana/Country/American music, Lewis was unabashed in voicing his displeasure with the “current state of affairs” in our country, albeit in a tongue in cheek tone. Preceding “(Some Fall Hard) Living Easy,” Lewis paid homage to some of the legends we’ve lost in recent years: “We had a wild week back here in 2016, I lost [some] of my great heroes - Leon Russell, Leonard Cohen, and of course, our great nation.” I don’t care what side of the aisle you find yourself on, that’s pretty damn clever. And that seems to come naturally to Sam Lewis, in addition to his music.
Lewis expressed that one of the aims in creating LOVERSITY was to “go out on a limb” and to make himself “uncomfortable,” which resulted in obvious success. So much so that it’s safe to assume that Lewis will undoubtedly grow quite comfortable on said limb to the point of which it becomes his new “normal.” Truly, the album is a tantalizing look at what’s to come for Lewis’ future projects, but let’s not permit such a fact from subjugating LOVERSITY itself. The album will surely have legs for a few years to come.