Zane Lewis: Creating some wild waves with genuine, hard-driving country soul

By TERRY MATHEWS, News-Telegram Arts Editor

April 3, 2008 - When Zane Lewis was working on the press kit for his first nationally-released CD, someone used the word "eponymous" in the press release.

Lewis read the text, slapped his thigh and asked, "Wouldn't it just be easier to say 'self-titled?'"

That's Lewis in a nutshell. He's a no-nonsense artist with a hankering to tell it like it is. He's not slick or over-produced. And neither is his music.

"Zane Lewis," the CD was released last Tuesday, is full of raucous rock and roll. Zane Lewis, the man, rocks out, too.

From the opening licks of "Southland" to the plaintive "Even a Leaf," Lewis gives notice that he's got the chops to play with the big boys.

"I made 'Southland' the first cut because it sets a tone," Lewis said in a telephone interview. "I like to rock my country."

With a driving back beat and lyrics like this, it's hard to get more country:

Got the Stars and the Bars out in the front yard

And the old muscle cars on cinder blocks.

When the sun goes down, every guy in town

Can be found at the Wal-Mart parking lot

Talking about football, women and fishin'

A little bit of fact and a whole lot of fiction.

Welcome to the Southland - open up a beer can

Crank up the Hank, the Haggard and the Waylon

That's how we do it down home.

Lewis continues the hard country rock on "She's Got it Goin' On," "Helluva Time" and "Bad Ass Country Band." This boy knows how to lay it down. And the way the back-up singers wail will make you want to slap your grandmother and shout "Amen!"

Like any country singer worth his Wranglers, Lewis can turn up the heat in the romance arena. "Come With Me," which is climbing on the CountryBreakout track, scorches the CD with just a touch of danger hanging on the edges. Who doesn't love a bad boy?

"There's something sexy about two lovers' journey down a road to which neither of you know is headed," Lewis said. "The lyrics and vibe are a sensual passage."

I'll say. Lewis makes being in love sound really good.

The singer/songwriter must have survived the loss of a love, too. "Leavin'" is about letting someone follow their dreams, even when it hurts. He closes the CD with "Even a Leaf," a slow-burn ballad about having the good sense to let go.

"Holding on to a relationship that's gone bad may seemingly be all that keeps the pain from overwhelming you, when truthfully, letting go is the only comfort you will find," Lewis explained. "On a tree in the dead of winter, even the last clinging leaf knows when to let go."

I'm a country purist. The over-produced, country-lite artists currently coming out of Nashville do nothing for me. That's why I'm hopping on the Zane Lewis bandwagon. He's every inch a hard-core country star. He proves it with every rocked-out note. I promise you.

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