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Zane Lewis - Zane Lewis 
Review By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist
3/26/08

"When I'm onstage, I'm an in-your-face guy and I'm all about getting the crowd jacked up and enjoying themselves," Zane says with an easy laugh. "Even my slow songs are like that; they still have power and drive. You work on an album in the studio over the course of several months and then you're out there playing those songs live. If the audience doesn't feel the music, you might as well just hang it up.” (Zane Lewis on his Myspace page.)

Turbo-tonkin’ Texan Zane Lewis is out and active with his second album, a self-titled sizzler. Lewis simply, and energetically, delivers with a power brand of hip country, all without hype or hoopla. He energizes his brand of country on an album that rocks on start-up, slows for needed breathers, only to end on an emotional high.

On this eponymous offering, the 12 tracks show a definite delight for things honky-tonk. Think Hank Junior pairing with Van Zant with a smidge of Shooter and you’re getting warm. For this advertising degree, hat-wearing rocker the album is a realization for overdue ambitions. Growing up in Round Rock, the chance to live the music-making dream is a natural for Lewis --his dad had a swing band, and young Lewis spent some of his six academic years bathroom crooning to Strait, Garth and others. “It drove my roommates crazy,” says the singer who has opened shows for Yoakam, Cagle, Steve Holy and others.

More possible honesty comes captured in an art imitates life lyric on the Ashley Gorley, Bryan Simpson and Matt Jenkins co-write, “Off The Record”. “I learned my first guitar lick, playin’ along to Ramblin’ Fever; I played it with pride, just like it was mine, and hoped no-one listened to Haggard, cos I stole it right off the record.”

But a major delight of this album is Lewis hoes his own road. He doesn’t copy or clone. He may sing about lifting licks; but here, on an album that is pleasing and fresh, there is no need for anything other than hearsay.

With a hot band and power-charged tunes and two astute producers in tow – Lex Lipsitz and Brett James – this “ CMT Who New To Watch In 2008” nominee is poised, smoldering and ready for radio to make a determined promise to give fans something more than the current treadmill of hats, hunks, and blondes.

With a voice that blisters and a rumored stage show to match, Lewis claims instant attention with a growled “Yeah!” on the hard-pounded and guitar-fuelled “Welcome To The Southland”. The track is a defiant and definite payback to annoying neighbours; play this loud, and watch the U-haul arrive. They’ll be gone quicker than last week’s pay. However, that’s what’s on offer here – it’s a hard rocking countrified album. It might irritate the purists but it will snag the party crowd.

While tracks like “She’s Got It Goin’ On”, the catch and hook-driven “This Be A Memory” and the made-for-Saturday-night “Becky Brown’s Daddy” all showcase Lewis’ hard and edgy attitude; slower moments, found on cuts like “Come With Me” and the end cut, “Even A Leaf”, round out a guy who’s waiting time has come.

Zane Lewis is an exciting find. Against the current radio backdrop of schmaltz and lack-lustre trendsetting and familiarity, he brings something new to the turntable. The guy fires. He has passion, and he drives it all along with a spirited voice, good song choices and an attitude that breathes overdue hope into modern country.

Yeah!

Check him out. The album, out March 25, is available from Slant Records.

Related Links:   
Official Website
MySpace  

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