June 28, 2018 Tony Lewis – Out of the Darkness (Album Review)
Who was not smitten by the hook-filled glory of Power Pop—the style of music that may be regarded as a hybrid of New Wave, Pop Rock, and Glam Metal? One of the bands that waved the flag of this genre in the illustrious decade of the 1980s was The Outfield, whose chart-topping classic singles such as “Your Love,” “All the Love,” “Bangin’ on My Heart,” “No Surrender,” “My Paradise,” and “Voice of Babylon” remain favorites on Rock-formatted retrospective radio stations as well as on the record players of many ’80s music aficionados.
Formed in 1984, in London, England, The Outfield got to release nine studio albums, from 1985’s Play Deep to 2011’s Replay, until the group ultimately disbanded for good in 2014. Soon after, one of its founders, Vocalist and Bassist Tony Lewis, embarked on a solo career. Taking with him the sonic spirit of his erstwhile band, Lewis then spent a couple of years writing and recording new materials that comprised what will become his first-ever solo album. Aside from producing the project, he also played all the instruments.
Scheduled to be released on June 29, 2018, on Madison Records, Lewis’ debut work, titled Out of the Darkness, will surely delight especially the longtime fans of The Outfield. Its sound and sentiments are a throwback to Lewis’ Power Pop heyday with his former comrades. It opens with the very positive and upbeat energy of “Into the Light.” The homely and familiar guitar angularity weaves seamlessly into the rustic strums and nostalgic beats of the ensuing “Here and Now.” Lewis then slows down in a seeming melodrama as “Only You” plays next, only to pick up pace again.
The starry and soulful ballad “The Dance of Love” then relaxes the ambiance for a bit as it takes the listener back to the glittery gym dance floors of ’80s promenade nights. Then there is the heartrending “All Alone,” whose rhythm and melodies will surely remind the initiated of The Outfield’s very own “Your Love,” making the track another trek to the genre’s golden days. “I’ll Still Be Here” is a change of mood – choppy, minimalistic, garage-y, Rock-n-Roll!
Another Glam Metal-stylized ballad then sways next breezily like a lullaby in the form of the sparsely beautiful “Loving You,” in which Lewis’ silky, fragile voice floats lightly above a soft ocean of mild instrumentation. “Melt the Ice” returns the listener to the overall Power Pop predisposition of Out of the Darkness – punchy, melodic, passionate, anthemic.
“Thank You (For Breaking My Heart)” is yet another turn of tides, as its syncopated rhythm gallops dramatically and its orchestration surfs like waves in slow motion; it will fit onto a playlist of Pop Metal ballads that include Saigon Kick’s “Love Is on the Way,” Slaughter’s “Fly to the Angels,” Steelheart’s “We All Die Young,” and Faster Pussycat’s “House of Pain.” The folky “Dreams and Wishes” plucks its way afterwards in the same subtle contemplation. Another foray in orchestral music takes shape in the dreamy “Think That You Know Me.” Finally, Lewis concludes his solo masterpiece with the pensive yet hopeful “I Know,” whose bare, raw, and acoustic guitar-oriented approach serves as an apt album closer.
When his longtime friend and collaborator – The Outfield’s guitarist/co-songwriter, John Spinks – died in 2014, causing the final dissolution of their band, Lewis went into a sabbatical, considering for some time to leave music for good. Fortunately, the hiatus was short-lived. He realized immediately that music is too ingrained in his life that totally scraping it out of his system was like disposing of a big part of himself. This inspired him to reconsider; and with the help of his wife, he decided to immerse again himself in what he does best – writing songs. Out of the Darkness is the result of this. After listening to its entirety, the listener will certainly agree that Lewis’ decision to remain an artist, musician, songwriter, and singer is the best love in the world that he can really offer to his fans, after all. CrypticRock gives Out of the Darkness 4 out of 5 stars.