John Lewis proves that roots music is just a vibrant and authentic coming from Wales as it would from anywhere in theStates. Lewis is a member of The Rimshots and this latest album with a trio of Stuart McIlroy on piano, Paul Woodmansey on double bass and Billy “Duval” Roberts on drums is a fine mix of styles that makes this album a cut above the one dimensional retro recreations which emerge from that genre.
Tracks like It Hurts, 6 Months Gone and Money Troubles have a feel that sounds as if they belong in an enjoyable western B-Movie, while others are right up to speed as rockabilly riots. Flat Top Cat, which opens the album, is a tribute to the late Mac Curtis. The title tracks, where he is joined by The Jets on backing vocals, is a doo wop styled song. Please Don’t Let Me Love You is a rockin’ reworking of an old Hank Williams Snr Ralph Jones written demo. Sosban Fach is a Welsh traditional song given a guitar workout and has, at one point, an almost Russian texture to the second part that makes it an interesting mix of influences. And let us not forget the uncredited brief spot of yodelling that closes the album with a smile.
Lewis is a skilful and engrossing guitarist and has a voice that is well able to adapt to the requirements of the different songs. All bar two are originals and show that the veteran player continues to progress while still staying true to his roots. The band are right up there with him, laying on the pressure and building up a head of steam. There is no doubting the commitment that John Lewis has made to his music through the years and while it may never sell in the large quantities that a major label or a careerist might seek, it will nevertheless keep his own fan base happy and give him the reason and means to continue touring, playing and delighting those who are drawn to rock ’n’ roll, rockabilly and beyond. That this music keeps him sane in what is an all-too-often insane business is indelibly stamped on his music.