“States of Being” by Lewis Daniel

Drawing on influences of all sorts, London-based composer and saxophonist Lewis Daniel already sounds like a veteran on his debut EP, “States Of Being”. Unique solos meet a wide variety of instrumentation that is both refreshing and innovative. This electrifying EP kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire 26 minutes.

A tone of light optimism is quickly set in the first song. Peppered with voice messages that talk about not giving up and speaking things into reality are met with smooth melodic lines setting an air of hope. Cool organ lines provide chordal support as well as fills that fit and enhance the message of the song. Smooth vocals quickly turn to scatting while remaining full and interesting.

A repeating E on the piano establishes the second song “Grief” as odd-metered. It is soon met by light chords that wouldn’t feel out of place in a coffee shop. Lewis travels between these harmonious lines leading the song along with solos that are both challenging and easy to follow for the listener. The entry of the steel pan was entirely unexpected but broke down the beat, unlike anything I’ve ever heard.

Led by a bass that digs in and tasteful fills from the drums, “Why Me” gave a chance for the soloists to stretch out and develop their ideas without feeling rushed. Steelpan complimented the sax solo and fits perfectly into the texture. Exploring the depth of the sound on the back half of the song helped illuminate the group’s unique ability to find comfort in disarray. Layered French vocals at the end took me by surprise but ties everything together very nicely.

“Endurance” challenges the band’s sound that has been established on the songs before it. Utilizing a much more modern style of production and mixing. A constant influx of new sounds ranging from grooving jazzy horn lines to Mortal Kombat lyrics shows the level of detail and dedication to the intent of the song. Everything was thought about and aids the feeling. Despite the almost chaotic nature of the song beauty pokes through. Lovely piano riffs aid the sense of tranquility that interjects the busy synthesizer groove.

The final song on the EP, “Bliss” features ethereal vocals from Kersha Bailey. Driven by an upbeat drum beat and a bass line that brings that dance feel. Interesting horn lines freckle the track used sparingly but always sounding disciplined and tight. Sometimes there’s a saxophone solo, others an electric piano, but the song never strays far from the mood set by the pads and Kersha.

I found myself constantly impressed with the wild sounds used. All of them fit the aesthetic and enriched the songs. Wherever one song ended the next picked up causing the whole EP to deliver a cohesive message that exhibited Lewis Daniel phenomenally. A wonderful debut all around.

Written by Tyler Roberts





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