Bluesman builds off blues foundation
Joe Lewis wasn’t always a blues musician. He didn’t pick up a guitar until he was working at a pawn shop in Austin, Texas. However, once he finally did, he fell in love with it and quickly dug into the local blues and rock scene. A couple of solo releases under the name Black Joe Lewis gained serious traction, which led to the assembly of Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. Soon after their formation, serious touring, festival appearances and multiple other records have only grown their spotlight since. And now, ten years after The Honeybears’ inception, the band has just released their fifth full-length record, The Difference Between Me & You.
Upon listening to the album, it’s evident that Lewis is no longer just a blues artist. The Difference Between Me & You is the most diverse record the band has put out. The foundation is still very much blues-centered, though, as Lewis’ soulful vocals and expressive guitar playing are evident on every track. Those looking for those traditional blues-rock tracks will find plenty, as songs such as opener “Nothing But A Cliché,” “Hemmin’ and Hawin” and “She Came On To Me.” Most of the songs feature extended guitar solos as well.
That being said though, the most impressive part of the album is what’s on top of the foundation. “No Rhyme Or Reason” is a horn-driven, foot-stomping track that would fit seamlessly into Stevie Wonder or any other Motown artist’s catalog. Horns add that R&B flavor into several other songs as well, such as “Suit or Soul?” Other genres that make an appearance in the album’s 13-song set are Sheepdogs-style boogie rock (“Culture Vulture”), gospel (“Do Yourself In”), fuzzy garage rock (“Handshake Drugs”) and even pseudo punk (“Girls on Bikes”). The Honeybears behind him are all extremely talented musicians as well, so the grooves are airtight.
There isn’t a bad song on the album either. If the album only consisted of the blues tracks, it would be fair to say that it was monotonous and unoriginal, but since there’s enough variety all the way through, Lewis and crew get major props.