There’s something about artists who have split their time between Australia and the UK. Whether it’s a blending of local influences, an immersion in two different culture bubbles or simply something in the water, it’s a formula that’s consistently shown it’s worth.
The latest ambassador for our relationship with the motherland is Dean Lewis. Even with just one single to his name, this newcomer has all the promises of both nations’ best.
Waves is the debut tune from Dean Lewis, a heartfelt vocal ballad and an absolute emotional roller coaster that cements the newcomer as a songwriter to listen out for.
After being picked up by Specific Music and Kobalt in 2015, Dean was jettisoned to the UK for a writing session that became responsible for the tracks that will make up his debut EP. Waves is the first taste of those tunes, and the English influence stands strong indeed.
Obvious throws to giants of British pop present throughout, the vocals landing somewhere between the polished, but easy-to-digest tone of James Blunt and the more interesting drawls of Jake Bugg. Lewis is easy to listen to, no doubt, but there’s a mystery in his delivery and lyricism that adds a depth most new artists don’t have access to.
Waves seems to describe the two-faced joy and sadness of youth, and specifically young love. There’s definite nods to times gone by, but a bittersweet feeling permeates the whole track, creating a juxtaposition that’s at once nostalgic, sad and hopeful.
It’s a killer example of why artists should keep their song meanings to themselves; one of the hugest allures of Waves is this enigmatic dichotomy, hence the main vocal lick “It comes and goes in waves.”
This isn’t to say that the track is all about the unknown. Lewis wouldn’t have been picked up by such major labels if he didn’t present well musically, and the arrangement of Waves is a gripping reflection of the song’s attitude.
Soft, lo-fi guitar complete with string scratches open the track, owning the mix in line with the vocals. As the lyrics build, a bass drum is added, building to the chorus simply but strongly. This pattern is repeated in subsequent verses, in contrast to the live strings and more complex percussions that pervades the choruses.
It’s musical light and shade, directly in line with the ambiguity Lewis creates with his vocals.
Waves was written by Lewis, produced by Nick Aitkinson and Edd Holloway and mixed by Dan Grech (Circa Waves, Josef Salvat, Halsey), and the combined experience shows in the track. It’s a complex release beyond what an artist as new as Lewis should be capable of, and it’s only going to enrich his debut into the scene.
If you want to catch him live, Dean Lewis is doing a secret pop up show this Thursday November 3rd in Redfern, and Happy has a double pass to offer up.
To enter, email [email protected] with your own single review of Waves and put ‘Happy’ in the subject line. Best of luck!