Indian Summer Blues – Lewis Papier (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

a1497226511_2One of the beautiful aspects of music, and there are many, is that not only are songs a great way of marking a significant event, a notation in the book of life of saying something about the world as we travel through it, the song itself is also a point in time. Whilst the message being carried doesn’t change, the song itself speaks from a specific moment of creation, a period of time, of the places and the people who created that version of the song.

Indian Summer Blues is a song of mourning, of moving forward and having to carry an emotional burden and about coming to terms with the slings and arrows that life throws at us all, a song for a cousin lost to cancer and the husband who now has to deal with its aftermath.

It is one of those bitter sweet comments on life, a gentle soft rock meets sensitive pop musical package, it reminds us of the transitory nature of this life and how it affects those who have to cope with the passing of loved one. It is both a personal eulogy and a universal statement, a very specific picture but also a broadly relatable sentiment. Greg Schotthaeur’s vocals are that perfect blend of sweetness and confidence avoiding the fey and the melancholic which is often a misstep that it is all too easy to make when working in such territory.

And as I pointed out in my opening statement, the song itself is just one point in time in the songs journey also as highlighted by the acoustic version with vocals this time by Jon Statham. Here the song is stripped down to vocals and an acoustic guitar and this lighter touch takes the song into even more emotive territory as the lilting and dextrously picked guitar is drawn to the fore because of the musical space it is afforded. For me this is the perfect version, the simplicity makes the delivery more powerful, space is a much underrated creative tool.

It is therefore interesting to hear the original demo, sung by the author himself, which seems to combine elements of both its sibling versions and a wonderfully retro feel, like a long lost psychedelic pop song from the sixties.

And of course songs are flexible and can be adapted to redirect their sentiment to mark other significant passings and with only a minor edit to accommodate a change in gender, Lewis Papier, took the acoustic version and used it to mark the passing of Miami Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez who was lost in a tragic boating accident two years ago.

Songs can tell stories but they are also stories in their own right, they evolve and adapt just as people do to the challenges and changes of life.


Days Of No Immunity  –  Lewis Papier (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

o-SMALLPOX-570One of the things I love about Mr P’s music, and there are many things, is that you certainly get value for money. Where others might deliver a groovy beat and a set of fun but ultimately throwaway lyrics, Lewis Papier instead offers so much more. A song, an intricate and deftly wrought tune, an idea, an opinion and a history lesson all rolled into one, that’s value for money if ever I saw it. You can keep your landfill pop and cliched rock, give me something I can get my head engaged with anytime.

It’s a fascinating narrative, set in Leicester, a place long associated with the anti-vaccine movement right from its earliest days. We may think that such movements are a recent development but the arguments swirling around the practice of vaccination date back to the early1800’s when Jenner first sought to prove the validity of the idea. Here the story line starts small “Your son needs his treatment or else you’ll go to jail” but soon takes us to national concerns  “In the town of Leicester, such a mighty throng, arm in arm we marched against, the power of the state.” And against these historical drawing of battle lines it raises the question, how much of the eradication of diseases such as smallpox and cholera was due to vaccination and how much was due to the advances in sanitation also taking place? The pro-vaccination side of the argument may have taken the credit but perhaps it is time that history was re-evaluated, re-examined and where necessary re-written?

Jon Statham is again called on to provide the vocals and does so with conviction and that sense of the theatre which underpins much of Lewis’ work. Guitars cascade and strings sweep and the vocal narrative takes centre stage for a story which comes from the medical battlegrounds of Victorian England as the arrogant march of the new sciences ran roughshod over the legitimate concerns and fears of the people and often turned a blind eye to the actual consequences of their actions.

As always Lewis’s song does something that most music doesn’t, it makes you reach for the history books…or more likely the search engine…to find out more, research the back story, and in doing so reveals a chapter of history that has long been swept under the carpet of convenience.
Music is great when it makes you feel something but very rarely does it make you think this much and for that Lewis Papier has my undying, and largely unvaccinated, gratitude.


Save Your Seat –  Lewis Papier (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

NatalieMusic is made for many reasons, sometimes for commercial gain, sometimes as a rallying cry, maybe merely for fun or for theatrical or cinematic reasons. Possible the purest and most honourable reason is as a dedication, a tribute to a lost loved one, a commemoration and remembrance, and that is exactly what Lewis Papier has done here.

A memorial to his late cousin, Natalie Papier, her saying “save my seat,” is immortalised in the song, a saying which would be heard when there was a gathering, particularly if that gathering was to listen to her Uncle Leo play his guitar for family and friends. And even if you are not as connected to the heart of the song as its author, it is a beautiful and emotive piece of music. Capturing a slight musical theatre atmosphere, a haunting and reflective piece from a slightly different time, it is a wonderful biographic narrative blending cherished memories with heartfelt regrets into the perfect elegy.

Whilst it is driven by the lyrics, which are gorgeously rendered by Jon Statham, there are some wonderful musical motifs running around the edge, chiming acoustics, distant choral washes and a meandering, old world electric guitar riff which seems to act as a counter harmony, wandering and echoing through the main delivery. In a culture driven by reckless immediacy and emotional disposability, it takes a rare talent to come up with something as touching and personal whilst also as delicate and universally resonant as this.

Even when dealing with such a difficult and touching subject the song is nothing but celebratory, rather than dwelling on the heartbreak it highlights how she touched their lives, how the world was a better place for her passing through. It is a positivity underlined by the line “We whisper in the dark, How you left your mark, Natalie is your name!” …present tense, alluding to the idea that in our memories people never really move on, that to bring them back all we have to do is remember.

As the song flips through the everyday memories of photographs and colouring books, the food and music of those family gatherings, the tears are as much of joy as of regret, a song which allows people to celebrate together rather than grieve alone. More than anything it reminds us that the price of love is loss, but who would have it any other way?

I Had a Zombie Conversation –  Lewis Papier  (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

a3409987966_16I haven’t checked the statistics but I’m sure it would be a fair bet to say that Halloween is responsible for just as many seasonally gimmicky songs being thrust upon the unsuspecting public as Christmas is. Quick buck induced tunes built largely of cliche and usually devoid of humour, unless you happen to consider Keeping Up With The Kardashians to be the height of investigative journalism, in which case you probably have a wail of a time. If this is you please stop reading this review now. For as always there is another way, there always is if you look hard enough, and Lewis Papier once again proves that the lowest common denominator is not his musical cup of tea. Nor should it be ours.

For a start musically he builds a pretty slick tune, one which takes all the good ideas from mature pop and accessible rock — a latino groove, strong melody and intriguing lyricism as well as the occasional squalling guitar run, a thumping piano, calypso whistles and even a kooky xylophone break — and weaves them into an infectious musical boogie.

And then once you get into the lyrics you realise the analogous nature of the song, beyond its horror referencing title, it is actually about the horrors of small talk, stilted, first date chit-chat and the fact that the art of conversation may well be on its last legs. Well, thankfully music isn’t and Mr P. proves that with a bit of thought, pop can be a whole different ball game, though the lyrical subtlety may be a bit lost on the average dance floor denizen and the complex blend of musical styles might be a bit confusing for the little darlings.

So maybe we just file this alongside the works of other subtle, satirical greats such Randy Newman, siting as it does somewhere between social comment, comedy, musical score and pop for those who think creativity is still a platform for people to actually have something to say, something beyond the Bieber Book of Boring Babble which has become the norm. Lewis Papier again proves that there is room for funny and interesting dialogue in modern music, I guess we just have to sit here for a while whilst everyone else catches up. It could be a long wait but at least I’m in good company.

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