It's been seven years since David Lewis' Ghost Rhymes, and that's six years too long. For this new outing, he's changed emphases a mite, putting the focus more clearly on his gentle singing and lyrics but with the usual soothing, haunting, elusive instrumentations, in Old World New World shorn of everything but that which best supports the spotlight. Devil's Best Tune sounds straight out of Al Stewart's Year of the Cat, even to the point of Robert Lloyd tossing in a lead line highly evocative of Tim Renwick in his days with Al and with Quiver (and, of course, the later Sutherland Bros. the band amalgamated into).
I'm guessing few are going to notice the absence of drums in this CD, as the backing players adeptly keep the listener's attentions suspended in a floating, misty, night-haze or afternoon pastorale, an ambience complete in itself, not needing anything more than minor percussive ornamentation. In fact, no electric guitar was utilized whatsoever, not as a matter of planning but just the way the music filtered itself through Lewis and crew's hands. And in this disc, I detect a good deal more of Iain Matthews' killer old folky mello-rock group Plainsong as well, that revelation due, I think, to the absence of glare and bristle a more electric approach would have imbued.
There's likewise a generous helping of Donovan in many places, Nothing to Something as though taken off the cutting room floor of the Barabajagal LP whereas Fall to Earth travels more to Leitch's Lady of the Stars dipping backwards to Fairytale. For a product of the 2000s, Old World is a jewel of rescued antiquity, espousing the same Humanist concerns within period melodies and rhythms, the backing choruses particularly enchanting. Don't imagine, though, that the poetry is rife with hobbits and unicorns. The Great Unwind looks askance at the financial crimes still ravaging the globe, lamenting the oncoming disaster gathering speed and force, and if anyone would know what he's talking about it's David Lewis, Economics professor at the world-famed London School of Economics. Pay attention.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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