Live : Lewis & Leigh23.07.17 : Sesiwn Fawr 2017, Dolgellau
Lewis & Leigh's debut, Ghost, is a near perfectly produced album; all shimmering, muted blues guitar and intimate vocals. Their whole career so far feels like an intensely concentrated effort by two people who realised, immediately on meeting, that the songs they could write and perform together would have an extra notch of magic above what they might find alone.
They played Sesiwn Fawr mid-afternoon on a Sunday. On the wide stage they stood fragile for a moment, caught between the short sound check a rapid festival turnaround allows and performance - then opened without a spoken word or nod, with a potent, stripped back, elemental version of Piece of Gold - all the song's emotion still etched deeply in the minimal presentation.
They followed that with an unstoppable Mississippi river flow of aching, yearning intensity; Devil's in the Detail, Rubble, What is There To Do? (their first co-written song), There is a Light (a ravishing acappella) - punctuated by the brighter Only Fifteen, which recounts an adoptee finding his mother, and the country blues of Please Darlin'.
They closed with the delicately picked guitar and wistful mood of Whisky and Wine, the dramatic swagger of Heart Don't Want and then Keep Your Ghost, Alva beating time out on an electronic drum pad.
Sixties folk blues icon Davy Graham tellingly once said "It takes a long time for a song to become worth singing. They've got to mature". However good Ghost was these songs have grown with relentless live shows in the last few years; superbly composed and arranged when recorded, they now have even greater emotional range and colour.
This was a sort of homecoming gig for Al Lewis, and it was stunning. On stage the music is intact, the main details all in place, but there is an extraordinary space created with the limited instrumentation to frame the heart and soul of it. Live, Alva's voice is a revelation - sensual, human and rich; Al Lewis' guitar playing is precise, spare and masterful. Singing together their harmonies are radiant.
Lewis and Leigh as a duo are a rare phenomena - and, as if to prove it on homeground, this was an exquisite performance.
LEWIS & LEIGH I Keep Your Ghost