Black Joe Lewis – Electric Slave

written by: August 22, 2013
Album-art-for-Electric-Slave-by-Black-Joe-Lewis Release Date: August 27, 2013


Anyone who’s been to Austin, Texas can testify that it is a truly weird place. A blue dot in a red sea, a country and folk mecca amidst the swaths of indie and hippie, a bro paradise and hipster haven all at once. It’s a place where frats throw country concerts next door to vegan co-ops, tailgates take place on the same nights as indie rap concerts and blues barbeque dinners.

It’s a magical place, really, and we should all be thankful for it. Sure, it is from Austin that we get hyper-commercialized indie buzz every March, where washed up Haight and Ashbury diehards congregate, where state school greek life thrives, and where Rick Perry originates (fine, he’s from Paint Creek, but from the nation’s eyes…), but Austin also gives America hope that real, soulful, genuine music can still flourish.

Austin gives us the modern blues and rock and roll scene in its most powerful and legitimate form, and it is here that Black Joe Lewis, who has emerged as one of the most talented of these modern blues men, brings about his latest debut, Electric Slave.

Today, there are only two acts, Jack White and The Black Keys, that are touting blues-based rock as the standard; this is truly a rock world where the banjo and the synth reign supreme. It’s a shame, really, that blues and soul have taken a backseat, considering that this rooted bastion of rock and roll can bring about the most rousing and elemental reactions.

But Electric Slave undoubtedly matches its contemporaries’ levels of emotional and primal connection, and in some ways surpasses them. There are moments of musical clarity that emerge from the thick and slow-churning distortion and Lewis’ own grimy growls. Flashes of funk on bass interlace with his growl and his guitar, making the work groovy and fresh. It is equal parts Atlanta funk, Texas country, Tennessee rock, and Alabama blues.

Lewis’ propensity for driving, crunchy guitar riffs is so organically perfected that it should make Dan Auerbach shudder in his leather jacket and boots. Album opener “Skulldiggin” churns through like nothing else this year, all the while Lewis’ own raspy voice screams across the wall of sound attempting to overpower, with an attitude to strut.

“Young Girls,” “Dar es Salaam,” and “Mammas Queen” all power through in this same great tradition, with power and pride in blues scales and frantic distortion that would fit in any Texas town’s watering hole. In addition, “The Hipster” and “Vampire” show that Lewis’ compositions are much more sophisticated than the simple strings-and-drums setup; each track displays a natural propensity with blues and soul horn work that bring an additional layer of emotion and breadth to the work.

It’s refreshing to know that there are musicians in America like Black Joe Lewis, and that they are thriving in their own space. There is something so cathartic and satisfying about hearing a beautifully produced blues riff that cannot be quenched by any midi device or drum pad, or a driving baseline that touches your primal nerve more than any banal pop gesture.

Music in its primal form ruminates through Electric Guest just as it does through Lubbock and Austin and Abilene and every little place in Texas in between.

Black Joe Lewis  – Electric Slave tracklist:

  1. “Skulldiggin”
  2. “Young Girls”
  3. “Dar es Salaam”
  4. “My Blood Ain’t Runnin’ Right”
  5. “Guilty”
  6. “Come To My Party”
  7. “Vampire”
  8. “Make Dat Money”
  9. “The Hipster”
  10. “Golem”
  11. “Mammas Queen”