JEFFREY LEWIS - singer, songwriter, comic book illustrator, and spoken word artist - in short, indie rock’s renaissance man, returns to Galway to play Kelly’s, Bridge Street, this Sunday at 8.30pm.
Since his 2001 debut, The Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane, the New Yorker has created a niche for himself in the indie world with his surreal narratives and ruminations over music which combines New York art-punk with acoustic folk.
Jarvis Cocker has called him “the best lyricist working in the US today” while Rolling Stone declared him to be “downright inspiring”.
On the night, Jeffrey will perform songs from across his career, as well as from his forthcoming new album A Turn In The Dream Songs, to be released on Rough Trade on Monday October 10.
While A Turn In The Dream Songs is not quite as strong or as stylistically diverse as 2009’s magnificent ‘Em Are I, it nonetheless emerges as a fine work which perhaps ranks second only to its predecessor in terms of the artist’s overall canon.
This is largely due to it containing some of the most beautiful and accomplished melodies Jeffrey has ever written. This is best heard on the sublime ‘Water Leaking, Water Moving’, a meditation on the nature of water featuring dextrous, finger picked, acoustic guitar.
Also reaching that standard is ‘Time Trades’, with its gentle flute embellished melody and Jeffrey musing on how best to make use of our time on Earth: “Time is gonna take so much away/but there’s a way time can offer you a trade/you gotta do something you can get better at...cause that’s the only thing that time will leave you with.”
The gentle folk-pop vibe continues on ‘To Go And Return’ and ‘I Got Lost’, but the classic Lewis mannerisms of nerdy references and surreal humour abound as well.
The David Peel-esque acoustic punk of ‘Cult Boyfriend’ is a highlight: “Haggis and Fugu and food for cult eaters”, while ‘So What If I Couldn’t Take It’ features an effective rolling rhythm not unlike the one used on his 2007 cover of Crass’s ‘Do They Owe Us A Living?’
Here Jeffrey catalogues a list of disasters which befell him one day, including getting scores of “sevens, eighths, and nines” from tramps and bums when they saw him slip and slide on the street, only for those scores to be reduced to “threes, twos, and ones” when “20 tonnes of toxic waste” fall on top of him.
“After this discharge there’s a 3.6 discourse/It must be from Pitchfork,” Jeffrey concludes in a witty dig at the leading on-line music publication, which does not always give him good reviews. The album concludes with a memorable and humorous rap song, ‘Mosquito Mass Murderist’, which finds Jeffrey battling bugs in his kitchen.
While there is some filler, A Turn In The Dream Songs has enough great songs to justify repeated listens and see Jeffrey retain his place as one of the leading indie singer-songwriters in New York, in the US, or of anywhere for that matter.
Admission is €10. Support is from So Cow.