Most contemporary artists would probably try to downplay any similarity their music has to the artists who have gone before them, but George Lewis, Jr. wouldn’t be among them. It seems more likely that he would agree with all the 80’s/New Wave references that get thrown around when considering his work as Twin Shadow, and he probably wouldn’t care either. He’s not just cutting and pasting from the Reagan era though, rather he proudly flaunts his influences and forms everything into his how very personal sound.
The easy thing to do with an album like Confess would be to brush it aside as just another indie/80’s revival, I mean, ‘Run My Heart’ was a Bruce Springsteen song first right? Not taking this seriously though would be a mistake. Lewis has a knack for making the sort of big, emotional ballads that ruled the airwaves back in the day, and tracks like ‘Five Seconds’, ‘Golden Light’ and ‘Beg for the Night’ are the stuff that hits are made of. It wouldn’t come as a surprise to see this album reveal Twin Shadow to a much larger audience in the future. Musically he might veer towards the radio friendlier end of the dial this time around, but that’s certainly not a condemnation in this case.
He hits on other 80’s era stars like Prince with the smooth electro-R&B of ‘You Can Call Me On’ and ‘Patient’, the darkest song of the bunch and definitely one of the most confessional, while his vocal style throughout the record is likely to recall Peter Gabriel.
Part of what makes Confess work so well is the unabashed nature of it all. Lesser artists might try to conceal their point of view behind a veil of reverb and electronic goo, but not Lewis. Everything, including his vocals, comes through with crystal clarity. His production for the record matches the powerful nature of the songs he wrote for it. Even the cover art which features Lewis in his best leather bound bad boy pose is hiding nothing.
For some this is a record that may stick too closely an already tried and true method. But, when you sift through all the 80’s styling you’re left with a truly solid bunch of pop songs. There’s little doubt that they would’ve killed 30 or so years ago, but with a capable songwriter like Lewis at the helm Confess is a slam-dunk in the modern era.