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Black Joe Lewis

Electric Slave

Black Joe Lewis
9
From his 2009 arrival with Tell 'Em What Your Name Is, Black Joe Lewis's brand of punked-up R&B was a welcome counterpoint to the new generation of by-the-book soul revivalists. He was the bastard child of James Brown and R.L. Burnside, and although 2011's Scandalous was even better, it somehow seemed out-of-step with the blues-rock takeover launched by the Black Keys' Brothers. Since then, Austin, TX native Lewis has made notable band changes, losing long-time guitarist Zach Ernst and adding drummer Eduardo Torres, parted ways with roots-minded label Lost Highway, in favour of L.A.-based Vagrant, and switched producers from Spoon's Jim Eno to Stuart Sikes, a trusted Jack White engineer. The resulting Electric Slave has more than brought Lewis up to speed. While his three-piece horn section is still a presence, the focus is squarely on Lewis's guitar playing, with nearly all of the 11 tracks built upon meaty riffs, particularly glorious fuzzed-out opener "Skulldiggin" (one of three songs produced by John Congleton). Other tracks, such as "Guilty" and "My Blood Ain't Runnin' Right," manage to show up Iggy Pop, in the best possible way, putting his recent Stooges efforts to shame. Lewis's patented no-nonsense party rock still has its place in this new approach, with "Young Girls" and "The Hipster," but Electric Slave makes a strong case that Lewis is ready to go toe-to-toe with the Dan Auerbachs of the world, and easily has what it takes to go the distance.

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