(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #403: Rhys Lewis

By on Thursday, 22nd February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

As I’ve mentioned in past live reviews, solo artists have to bear the brunt of all the attention thrown their way, positive and negative. I always think of a quote from George Harrison where he said he felt sorry for Elvis because Elvis didn’t have a gang of friends he did like the Beatles. I tip my hat to every singer/songwriter who has had to audition alone, in front of countless audiences of industry bigwigs, endured rejection after rejection, and made it to the other side with head and heart intact with a record deal. Massive respect. All that taken together, when I’ve discovered a young new British artist with a major label deal, I can be sure that this person has impressed an awful lot of people and must have a lot of potential. It was this potential I heard listening to the songs by Rhys Lewis. I don’t think he has even hit the age of 25 yet, roughly around the same age as the Beatles when they were discovered. However, Lewis has one thing the Beatles famously never did: he got a deal with Decca Records.

The now London-based artist didn’t become a success overnight. Originally from Oxfordshire, Lewis started playing in a covers band with his brother, eventually moving up to performing alone at local open mic nights. Like many aspiring musicians in America, he worked in food service in pubs and credits those days with strengthening his work ethic. He’s also had the opportunity to travel and work in international studios, which have no doubt moulded his songwriting style. In late 2016, Decca released his debut single ‘Waking Up Without You’, the bluesy hit shooting up to the top of Spotify’s Viral Hits chart. With his beautifully smoky vocals drawing comparisons to Al Green and Marvin Gaye, it comes as a surprise to hear that the young man from Oxfordshire was not always comfortable as a singer. Thankfully, he’s gotten over these nerves and will be coming to Austin next month to wow us.

His most recent single ‘Bloodstains’ (listen here), released on the 9th of February, has a more upbeat pop melody guaranteed to keep your toes tapping. The song paints a picture of a beautiful anguish, of being in love with someone you know who isn’t good for you. Loving her hurts him. Lewis soulfully sings, “your love so bitter but I like the taste / your love’s so bitter but it’s sweet that way”, as if there’s an odd sense of comfort, possibly through sheer masochism, that love like this is supposed to hurt. A new EP, ‘Bad Timing’, arrives tomorrow, the 23rd of February.

Feeling things deeply comes naturally to him, as evidenced in earlier single ‘Living in the City’, where a boy from Oxfordshire honestly expresses his misgivings of living in the big smoke, far away from the land he knows best. While moving to London might still be a necessarily evil for some UK artists to attain success, it seems nice that we will be able to host Rhys Lewis away, from there at least for a few days, and hear the stories he sings from his heart. So far, he’s been announced to be opening the BBC Radio 2 evening showcase sponsored by PPL and PRS for Music Wednesday night, the 14th of March, at Latitude 30 and hosted by Jo Whiley.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, Rhys Lewis’ appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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