Present day rumors bookmark Lewis somewhere between legend and ludicrosity: an artist whose little known, ghostlike existence bodes succinctly with the sombre music that is his novelty. As he entered Music Lab studio, then 1983, Lewis was unheard-of – a matter that remained so until a chance pull by Jon Murphy, a vinyl digger at an Edmonton flea market, who graciously shared his discovery. With a mystery to his name and whereabouts, Lewis’s single existing record, L’Amour, gathered as much recognition as it did questions. Today, few answers remain.
Lewis carries the lore of a movie-star (when symbolically imagining the man dissolved into L’Amour‘s monochromatic album cover); being understood only through piecemeal confirmations (many of which come from his distant nephew). Etched on the firstly discovered LP’s sleeve is a dedication to Sports Illustrated supermodel Christie Brinkley and a photo credit to Ed Colver, an eminent photographer of the West Coast punk scene. Reportedly, Colver met Lewis not as Lewis but as Randall Wulff, a silk-haired man donning a white convertible Mercedes and dating a woman who was assumably a model. Speculation believes Lewis (perhaps one of Wulff’s many pseudonyms) to be a con artist – as with the completion of Wulff’s record and photo shoot, coincidentally, so did the $250 check written to Colver bounce. By the time this was realized, Lewis had already fled Los Angeles taking all traces of him in tow.
With L’Amour having recently undergone its first ever reissue by Light In The Attic Records, Lewis is attaining a never-before fanbase with more collectors than ever combing Canadian bizarres for other hidden Lewis records. Now, hot off the fire of his revival, a second album has just been unearthed. The follow-up is called Romantic Times, released in 1985, only two years after his debut. Discovered by a record store employee based in Calgery, the first spotted copy is selling on eBay and fetching a serious 20 bids for over $1600 so far.
As a synth-folk artist who sinks into his music the same way his stricken looks liquesce into his ever-present grayscale photographs, what little of Romantic Times that has been released mirrors what made L’Amour similarly stand out. Slow-crawling synthesizers and delicate piano key-work are sparsely paired with Lewis’s nearly inaudible vocals, all making up the sneak peek to his freshly liberated sophomore album. Hear the haunting clip below:
Comparisons that have stuck give Lewis a likening to softer-spoken Bruce Springsteen songs (particularly within Nebraska) or the atmospheric soundtracks done by Angelo Badalamenti. His stunning lead track off L’Amour, “I Thought the World of You”, gives perfect harmony to these connections, albeit a welcome introduction into Lewis: the man, the myth, the legend. With our utmost recommendation, please, delve into the track below if the above recollection of a mysterious life didn’t already cause a Google-driven stir of intrigue.