Guitar-strumming singer-songwriters often wear thin quickly; even elegant compositions can lose their impact once you’ve heard five of them in a row. Not so with New York City’s Jeffrey Lewis, who returns to London on 2 November on the back of a new album, A Turn In The Dream-Songs.
Lewis has been offering up his dry, introspective yet ultimately optimistic songs for over a decade now and, amid a rise that’s been more glacial than meteoric, his work has ranged from lo-fi punk jams to meandering narrative. Us Londoners might find ready comparisons with the likes of The Wave Pictures or Emmy The Great.
An instore show at Puregroove Records a couple of years ago won us over with a distinctive downbeat charm and dexterous lyrics that referenced everything from beat poets to Hulk Hogan. Here’s Jeffrey musing about artistic endeavor in fan favorite Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror, from 2003’s City and Eastern Songs.
More recently, a support slot for Daniel Johnston at East London’s Troxy proved that Lewis can hold his own in front of a bigger crowd, so the choice of Heaven as a venue for this visit remains promising. It may mean we get less of this sort of thing though; displaying Lewis’ talent not only for storytelling, but for illustration as well. This additional skill is used to great effect on album artwork past and present. Nevertheless, accompanied by a full band, including Jeffrey’s brother Jack, the gig promises a witty clip of neurotic Americana, broadcast by a creative and hardworking artist.
By Tom Williams