Wednesday, December 21, 2011

For a Song Solstice Special: Solstice Night

Michael Lewis: Solstice Night


Sometimes in winter, there is a magical moment. It has snowed enough to completely cover everything, so the familiar world has been replaced by the mystery of smooth white shapes. The storm is over, the clouds have skittered away to their burrows for a winter’s nap, and the whole scene is lit by the full moon that wasn’t there a moment ago. Most of these images are not in Michael Lewis’ song Solstice Night, but he captures the same feeling in music as this scene does in in vision and feel. Lewis has only our sense of hearing to appeal to convey the full range of sensory and emotional response, and he succeeds brilliantly. No wonder he places this magic on the night of the winter solstice.

Lewis is the songwriting half of Traveler’s Dream, but The Natural World needed to be a solo album, because Lewis is after a different sound here. Some of the arrangements are a bit fuller than Solstice Night, but this music is rooted in the relatively young tradition of singer-songwriter music, rather than the British Isles folk stylings of Traveler’s Dream. The songs on The Natural World are personal, detailing the comfort Lewis draws from nature, and the awe it inspires in him. Where the Traveler’s Dream material is shaped by traditional forms, here Lewis can shape is words however he wishes. The result is every bit as much a collection of poetry as of music.