Label: Al Lewis Music Release date: 12/07/10 Link: Myspace Buy: Amazon With influences ranging from Fleetwood Mac, John Martyn and Neil Young to the more recent critically acclaimed Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes it is safe to say Al Lewis has started off on the right track. Back in his homeland of North Wales his success and been growing since the self-release of his Welsh language EP Bym mewn Breuddwyd back in 2007. Since then he has gone on to release a further two EPs: Dilyn Pob Cam and One Way Love Affair, alongside receiving some deserved exposure on BBC's 6music. Last year saw yet more praise, again on home turf, for his first full length album Sawl Ffordd Allan, which spent numerous weeks at the top of the Welsh Language charts. He then followed it up with a collaborative EP entitled Skin and Bones, with Sarah Howells of Paper Aeroplanes who also offers vocal assistance on this most recent recording. In the Wake is an exceptionally pretty album, with touches of Angus and Julia Stone in its joining of male/female vocals and folk-inspired pop. His lyrics too are smart and metaphorical, as in ‘The Arsonist’ who describes himself as "a man without a fire in [his] belly". Or in "Life on the Wire" whose opening verse supports a tightrope walker who I hope is Philippe Petit of the breathtaking documentary Man on Wire - though I'm not sure! In places I feel I should pick apart how seemingly perfect his album is: the production, instrumentation, the construction of the songs in quite an a-typical pop-formation way. While this never goes against Lewis, I feel he may not be so easily dismissed by the not-so-easy-to-please of us with the at times saccharine sweet lyrics and often overpowering vocals that teeter on the brink of becoming a little too showy, slightly robbing the songs of their sincerity at times. That said, just when these thoughts creep in harmonicas, as in ‘Treading Water’ interrupt the flow and save these heartfelt renditions, "we're just too different in small little ways", from descending into pop territory. If he broke the rules "in small little ways" and a bit more; often there might be a more musically intriguing record here, nonetheless two beautiful vocals and some touching tales translated. Photobucket