Alt-Country / Americana duo Lewis & Leigh released their debut EP ‘Night Drives’ back in October last year. An introduction to the music of Al Lewis & Alva Leigh which received a host of glowing reviews, our review only added to the widespread praise. Since those early days of their creative partnership Lewis & Leigh have gone from strength to strength. Not only was ‘What Is There To Do’, the lead single from their first EP, play-listed by both Amazing Radio & BBC Radio 2; the duo have also made hugely successful performances at Celtic Connections and Country To Country. Their unique blend of Country, Folk & Americana, which the duo have aptly named ‘Celticana’, making them stand out from the crowd.
This month sees the release of follow-up EP ‘Missing Years’, a 4-track collection which we are tantalisingly told ‘showcases a darker side to the duo’s work‘. First evidence of this moodier output from Lewis & Leigh came with ‘Devil’s In The Detail‘, complete with suitably atmospheric video. The track manages to be both low-key but incredibly effective, Leigh takes the lead vocally and sings with a melancholy befitting the downbeat nature of the lyrics, Lewis is on hand to add rich harmonies. ‘Rubble‘ intriguingly intertwines stories of the South Wales valleys & post-Katrina Mississippi, subject matter held personally dear by Welshman Lewis and Mississippi-born Leigh. The gently-paced track trades the eerie feeling of its predecessor for a restrained defiance against life’s unfortunate events. Stirring percussion and spot-on vocals, both separately and in unison, aid the track in making its mark.
The gritty ‘Late Show’ lays bare the weaknesses in all of us, on a slow-burn track with a taste of New Orleans jazz, complete with impressive horns. Conjuring up images of a sweaty, downstairs music club the duo deliver the requisite sizzle to their performances. Amongst the original material on the EP is a cover of Coldplay track ‘Spies‘, never released as a single the cut featured on the UK band’s debut album ‘Parachutes’ back in 2000. The song has a definite sound of Chris Martin and his chums, but given a Lewis & Leigh makeover it sits perfectly amongst its’ surroundings on ‘Missing Years’. Beguiling piano, atmospheric strings and yet more first-class vocals, particularly a gorgeous turn from Leigh, ensure that ‘Spies’ rounds the EP off in triumphant style.
Lewis & Leigh impressed hugely with ‘Night Drives’ and this new outing ‘Missing Years’ proves that was not down to chance. Delivering an EP which offers absorbing subject material, compelling melodies and a maturity beyond their years, Lewis & Leigh have marked themselves out as an act you cannot afford to ignore. Bringing a traditional sound blended with a modern edge, the duo are not only pioneering Celticana but are making it effortlessly cool. (‘Missing Years‘ is released on 27th April)