The Lewis Hamilton Band – On the Radio
CD: 9 Songs, 39 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Americana, All Original Songs
Before listening to a blues album, here’s a pivotal question to ask: “Is it driven by vocals or instrumentation?” Not everyone can be a Sean Costello or Ben Levin. By the same token, not all artists can be Duane Allman or Muddy Waters. Even rarer are those genre masters who strike a perfect balance between the two: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gregg Allman, Eric Clapton. Scotland’s Lewis Hamilton Band puts almost all its eggs in the instrumentation basket, particularly on guitar. Hamilton infuses each tune on his new album On the Radio with ten thousand volts of vigor, whether electric, acoustic, or a combination of both. “All I want to do is play,” he sings during “Lazy,” the penultimate song. “I know I do nothing, nothing at all, but at least I do lazy my way.” Funny: that’s not how he sounds on the rest of the CD. From blues rockers that lean to the far side of rock, such as the title track, to moody instrumentals such as “Dusk,” Lewis and his talented trio go all out. His vocals may be Chardonnay-dry and aloof, but the rest of him is all in.
Lewis’ debut album Gambling Machine was released when he was only seventeen years old, winning the Scottish New Music Award for Scottish Jazz/Blues Album of the Year for 2012. The song “Candlelight & Sympathy,” from his second album Empty Roads, is featured on the soundtrack of the feature film Scar Tissue, and the title track used by the BBC as theme music for the TV series The Mart. His third album, Ghost Train, has had airplay and a special mention from “Whispering” Bob Harris on BBC R2. His fourth studio album, Shipwrecked, was chosen as an Album of the Month by the Independent Blues Broadcasters Association (IBBA).
Alongside Hamilton (guitars and vocals) are Nick Hamilton on bass and Ian Beestin on drums.
Other pluses of On the Radio include the earworm “Luck Could Strike Twice,” the atmospheric “When the River Dries” – a ballad about a farmer whose livelihood is on its last legs – and the bouncy blues shuffle “Over My Head.” Some may think Hamilton borrows too many pages from Stevie Ray’s playbook when it comes to his guitar riffs, but no matter. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all. As for standouts, wait for “Dusk” to arrive. It’s a beauty.
The Lewis Hamilton Band has made headway and will surely gain airplay with their latest CD!