Thursday, July 23, 2015
Lewis and Leigh - A Fine Slice of Celtic Folk and Americana, One Year Old and Preparing Third EP
Photo ©2015 Ross Trevail
When you live for music discovery, somedays you wear out your delete key. But occasionally, there are days (like the one recently) that keep you getting up in the morning. On such days you might turn on your computer to find something like this Facebook post from Lewis and Leigh:
"Happy 1st Birthday to this our first ever video. It was the first thing we ever posted/released as L&L and now here we are looking ahead to our third EP. Can't believe how quickly this year's flown by! We'll be unveiling our newest video very soon so stay tuned!"
"Say You Miss Me" (Wilco Cover) - First video recorded live at Urchin Studios, London (June 2014)
Upon hearing their two EP's my first thought was The Civil Wars. Although there are numerous parallels, Lewis and Leigh are more energetic, more electric, more country, and more Celtic. They call it Celtic folk and Americana or "Celticana". He is from London, she is from Mississippi, they both made solo albums in Nashville, and they met at the London concert of their mutual friend, Matthew Perryman-Jones (Ten out of Tenn).
Alva Leigh and Al Lewis have irresistible voices, they sound amazing together. Both of the EP's feature first-rate songwriting, inspired arrangements, and expert production. Bands like this don't come along everyday. Check out track five of their debut EP Night Drives, this is "Paradise".
Night Drives features the gorgeous pedal steel guitar of BJ Cole. The second EP, Missing Years, explores some different styles such as on "The Late Show" which has a bluesy swagger with a nice jazz touch of clarinet, and a trumpet part that threatens to take the tune to New Orleans.
What I take away from Lewis and Leigh is that songs this good coupled with voices that trade lines and sing together the way they do is pure magic. This music needs to be heard; theres no reason why Lewis and Leigh shouldn't have as much success as say, Mumford and Sons or The Civil Wars. The other day they posted a perfectly lovely cover of Elton John's "Country Comfort". Even if you've heard the original a million times, Lewis and Leigh really bring you inside the lyric and find, I think, even more beauty in this terrific song.
"We've chosen "Country Comfort" by Elton John for our latest cover video. We shot the live portion in a local church and paired it with archive footage of American farms from the 1950s. Check it out here."
Night Drives EP
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Missing Years EP
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Stream at Spotify
Lewis and Leigh's Website
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Lewis and Leigh's Twitter
Lewis and Leigh's Instagram
Here is the complete text of Lewis and Leigh's bio (from their website):
The roots of Lewis & Leigh stretch from the Deep South all the way over to the Welsh coast. Drawing on the rich heritage of these two musical hotbeds, Al Lewis and Alva Leigh create a unique blend of Celtic folk and Americana... or 'Celticana' as they like to call it.
Though they hail from Wales and Mississippi respectively, it was through their Nashville connections that Al Lewis and Alva Leigh met.
Alva moved to London from Nashville in 2012, and both Al and Alva's last solo albums were recorded there with Charlie Peacock (The Civil Wars) and John Mark Painter (Ben Folds) respectively. It was these Nashville connections that brought them together two summers ago at the London show of their good friend Matthew Perryman Jones.
In early 2014, Al & Alva began writing songs together, and they quickly bonded over their love of Whiskeytown, Gillian Welch and The Band. In a matter of weeks, these country-tinged folk songs tumbled out to form a life of their own, and suddenly Lewis & Leigh was born.
They released their debut EP, Night Drives, at Urchin Studios in October 2014. It features a guest appearance from the legendary BJ Cole (Elton John, Elvis Costello) on pedal steel. During the session, Lewis & Leigh decided to record and film a live cover version of one of their favourite songs, “Say You Miss Me” by Wilco. In January 2015, they recorded their second EP, Missing Years. They teamed up once again with Matt Ingram & Dan Cox at Urchin Studios - the team behind Laura Marling’s new album ‘Short Movie’. The EP showcases a darker side to the duo’s work and features their take on Coldplay’s ‘Spies.’ Missing Years is out now.
2015 has already been a busy year for Al & Alva, performing at both the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow and Country 2 Country at the O2, sell out shows in Cardiff, London and Glasgow. They’ve also performed live in session with Dermot O’Leary on BBC Radio 2 and Ricky Ross on BBC Radio Scotland.
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