Lewis II


Lewis II was the follow-up to Lewis Taylor's epochal, self-titled debut album. It was initially released in 2000 and this double LP release, its first ever vinyl edition, has been heavily anticipated for nearly a quarter of a century. After Island rejected Lewis Taylor's second release (later released as The Lost Album), he returned to the studio to record Lewis II. Less esoteric than Lewis Taylor, Lewis II is a more polished, sophisticated funk and mature up-tempo soul than the dark psych-soul of his debut. The production, whilst slicker, is a bit tougher, with more crisp R&B-flavored grooves, and head-nod beats and more bass pumping up his voice. The moody funk of "Party" sounds like a mad blend of Riot-era Sly Stone and Brian Wilson. "My Aching Heart", with its clean, slick, late '90s R&B drums, could surely have been a single. Lewis hoped "You Make Me Wanna" would be a single but the dank, organ-drenched groove, coupled with the growling eroticism of Lewis's vocals would've, again, made this beyond the pale for most mainstream music fans. Somewhat incongruous acidic synths and bleeps give way to a laconic summertime groove on breezy highlight "The Way You Done Me", all funky acoustic guitars and stunning, good-time vocals. Sumptuous ballad "Satisfied", a fan favorite, marries unusual instrumentation with classic soul-ballad structure. The dubbed-out, spaced-out "Never Gonna Be My Woman" is the closest the album comes to classic D'Angeloesque neo-soul, with echoes of the esoteric funk featured across Maxwell's contemporaneous Embrya. The "I'm On The Floor" / "Lewis II" / "Into You" song cycle stacks up against any other consecutive 15 minutes of recorded music. These could've been hits for Justin Timberlake during his Timbaland-collaborating days, such is the sonic and textural pop experimentation at play here. The extraordinary title track sounds like an outtake from Marvin Gaye's Trouble Man and spends its last third as a searingly dark piano-led psychedelic-guitar-crunching soul instrumental. The way it segues into, er, "Into You" is just straight up genius. The swoonsome, lovelorn ballad "Blue Eyes", apparently written in the spirit of Marvin's "Vulnerable", is a lush, slow swinger with some gorgeous noir touches. To close, Lewis completely retools Jeff Buckley's beloved, beautiful "Everybody Here Wants You". With fiery vocals, icy piano, and psychedelic guitars, Lewis recasts Buckley's effort as dramatic, ethereal soul. Mastered by Simon Francis. Cut by Cicely Balston at Air Studios and pressed at Record Industry.