‘Ghost’ by Lewis & Leigh (Album)

28 August, 2016 in Music Reviews

Lewis & Leigh

Al Lewis and Alva Leigh: a riveting listening experience

This stark and brave collaboration transcends the duo’s geographical differences as they bring together their startling harmonies and precise writing

Lewis & Leigh 'Ghost' coverAl Lewis and Alva Leigh joined forces when they realised just how well their voices worked together. As the a capella opening passage of There Is A Light introduces Ghost, it takes a mere few seconds before you agree with them. Lewis, from Wales and Leigh, from Mississippi show remarkable confidence to have the vocals so high in the mix, invariably backed with stark instrumentation, but it makes for a riveting listening experience.

Rubble is the song which best highlights the pair’s modus operandi. It’s a cross-cultural melting pot, balancing tales of ‘a church on east beach / South of highway 49’ with ‘a booming mining town’ in South Wales. The common thread is that both are now rubble and only remain in memory. Rather than incongruous or forced it makes perfect sense, all the more so when held together by their sonorous harmonies.

There are plenty of other great moments. Keep Your Ghost has a particularly scintillating vocal performance from Leigh, swooning against a lilting guitar. Heart Don’t Want bounces along over a tickling drum and The 4:19 is a plaintive ballad examining the price of chasing your dreams. Heartbeat provides the most inventive moment on an album not lacking in bold decisions. A lo-fi beat and synth creating a backdrop which brings a colder aura to the pair’s style.

The only slight disappointment is that an act as brave as Lewis & Leigh have fallen into the genre trap of having a song with ‘whiskey’ in the title (Whiskey And Wine), but perhaps it’s just their way of showing that they’re equally comfortable both within and outside the world of Americana. As far as debuts go, it’s rare to hear one as competent and flexing as Ghost and it deserves much praise.

Verdict: A cleverly constructed and original debut

Duncan Haskell