Stoned Part I
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After parting ways with Island, and without a label deal, Lewis went back to his home studio and began to record Stoned Part I in 2001. Co-written and co-produced with longtime collaborator Sabina Smyth, Lewis sings and plays all the instruments on this beautiful, emotional and very human album. It represents Lewis at his most accessible and finds him in the middle ground between his two Island releases. In some ways, Stoned Part I distills the best of his musical sensibilities. The flawless production is dense, layered and very early-2000s slick. The bottom end is thick, funky and sexy. The complex, proggy-soul of title track 'Stoned' opens the album and instantly captivates. Deep swinging funk with truly sweet soulful vocals, complemented by wah-wah guitar and swelling acidic synths. As Lewis himself told us, the ad libs at the end of the track were a nod to Paul McCartney at the end of 'Hey Jude'. Fan favourite 'Positively Beautiful' has shades of Curtis and Marvin; it's richly layered harmonies propelled by a simple, metronomic click-track that gives way to a more fully fleshed beat for the magnificent coda. The slow, sweeping majesty of 'Lewis IV' is all moody atmosphere, featuring dense, richly textured music and heavenly multi-tracked harmonies. The stop-you-in-your-tracks incredible 'Send Me An Angel' could have been a huge AM radio hit, beautifully crafted sophisticated soul-pop songwriting in the vein of the very best Sade records. Yep! *That good* The smooth, psychedelia-lite 'Til The Morning Light' is a gorgeous, sun-dappled love song, layered with Lewis' distinctive honey drenched vocals and, again, the type of record you could've easily heard all over the radio at the time of initial release.