Sam Lewis Brings Swampy Southern Soul to “Loversity” (ALBUM REVIEW)

Sam Lewis hangs with some big names, having toured with Los Lobos, Delbert McClinton, And Marty Stuart’s band. He’s collaborated with John Prine, Kasey Musgraves, and The Wood Brothers. That’s because Sam Lewis is one talented, soulful cat. This is his highly awaited third album, Loversity; and in a year absolutely packed with strong albums, this one is right near the top.

Very few artists can pull off what Lewis does here – marrying social commentary with infectious grooves that almost belie the underlying message because the music itself and Lewis’ soulful vocals just have that “feel good” quality. The album is composed of 14 tracks that Lewis has spent over a year and a half writing and playing for others. “These newer songs have been harder to write, but extremely necessary given the current climate I find the world in.” Recorded at Southern Ground Studios with engineer and co-producer Brandon Bell, the album carries mostly upbeat songs like the title track “Loversity” as well as the darker guitar-driven ballad “One in the Same.”. While most songs are originals, the record includes “Accidental Harmony”, a lullaby that fellow Nashville songwriter John Mann wrote for his firstborn child, and “Natural Disaster”, a Loudon Wainwright song that Lewis felt drawn to.

Lewis says this is the closest he’ll ever get to a concept record, “The idea is that we are all trying to get somewhere — all running from something and toward something. We’re all together in it, though.” Like many current songwriters, Lewis is appalled by the divisiveness that exists today. Yet his album doesn’t as much speak to that as to why unity is important. He’s taking the higher road and often the vibe is not unlike Bob Marley’s “One Love.”  His music has some qualities shared by Van Morrison and Al Green. It’s the kind of soul that sometimes gets under your skin and induces goosebumps.

The origin of the album title has a story too. Lewis was driving to play a show in Richmond when he spotted a bright, rainbow building just off the interstate. “The building had a word on it, but all I could see was -SITY,” he says, “I immediately said ‘loversity’, even though the sign said ‘diversity’. My friend and I Googled it and it wasn’t a real word, but I thought, well, I like that word.” A week later, Lewis returned home and immediately wrote “Loversity”, which would set the tone for this album.

Sam Lewis may still not be a major name to many, but with this effort, he’s likely now a headliner rather than an opening act.  

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