• CD Review: Spencer Lewis tries ‘A New Path’
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     | December 06,2013
     

    You can tell that a musician has had a long career when his children appear on his albums. Spencer Lewis recently released his 24th album since 1988, and “A New Path” continues to expand on the course of music that Lewis has taken in the past 25 years. Part of this new path is the inclusion of daughter Ariana Lewis on piano on one track.

    Ariana must be 20 years old by now, but this writer remembers when she was a sprightly youngster. It’s nice to know she is following musically in her dad’s footsteps. Sage Lewis, his older daughter, also makes an appearance as the designer of the CD jacket for this album.

    Lewis has not swayed much from the guitar and fiddle-centric path he began way back. A folksinger to start, he mostly does ambient music albums where he layers tracks of violin and guitar upon basic chord changes and a flatpicking approach that seems simple, but in his hands leads to interesting arpeggiated chord patterns.

    On this CD, beyond the one track with piano, the opening track “Into the White” includes Jeff Berlin on drums and mandolin by Kristina Stykos. The sound of the instruments is, as always, very evocative, with hints of folk, classical and Americana in the overtones.

    Lewis operates in a musical dream world of phrasing where each note and section flows into the next, as many small streams combine to build a river. The effect over the years and albums is to find Lewis in a 25-year continuum of music broken only on occasion by a vocal album mostly of his own compositions. But, for the most part, what you get from Lewis is music that can only lower the blood pressure and take the edge off of an edgy world.

    The one subtle change on this new album is in the sound of the guitar. Lewis recently acquired a Froggy Bottom guitar from Stykos’ husband, luthier Michael Millard. The guitar parts here seem richer, more resonant and deeply chocolaty in tone than the other instruments he has recorded with.

    If you are already a fan of Spencer Lewis, then you have written “A New Path” on your Christmas wish list. If you’ve not heard his music before here’s a chance to jump right into the ongoing stream of attractive guitar and violin sound that is the essence of Spencer Lewis.

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