Music review: Jeffrey Lewis

Musician and artist Jeffrey Lewis is on a 'small' tour
Musician and artist Jeffrey Lewis is on a 'small' tour
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New York’s East Village came to the unlikely setting of the green-tinged Hibs Supporters’ Club bar for the Edinburgh leg of Jeffrey Lewis’s extensive but very low-key tour of small Scottish venues. “I’m really excited to see different parts of Scotland,” said the sharp-tongued and youthful 41-year-old singer, songwriter and DIY comic book artist, “but I thought that meant we would be playing up dirt roads. I’m totally unprepared to see all these people.” It would be interesting to know how further audiences in places like Wick, Knoydart and Biggar compare.

Hibs Supporters Club, Edinburgh JJJJ

The crowd may have been large, but Lewis’s set was as low-key as they come; just the singer, his guitar, a loop pedal and a projector screen on to which his rough cartoons appeared like a filmic slideshow, telling us the true story of Pocahontas and of a particularly eccentric film noir detective story.

His style was ramshackle, but his lyrics were sharp and furiously incisive, whether relating his youthful love for cheap vinyl LPs (the 60s offered “bang for your buck”, the 80s were “guaranteed to totally suck”), a fading relationship (“without you, the recycling’s starting to pile up”) or a cutesy tale of face-eating cannibal monkeys (“nothing remains from the lips to the brains”).

Lewis is a millennial Dylan, offering up resonant poignancy in Time Trades’ exhortation to his audience to fight ageing by pursuing what they love, and revealing his addictive internet habits to the tune of the Velvet Underground’s Heroin (“when I’m surfing on the net / and I browse with no regret / I’m going to sign into email if I can / because it makes me feel like I have friends”). With Mathias Kom and Ariel Sharratt of Canadian soulmates The Burning Hell playing support, this was a performance for our times.

DAVID POLLOCK