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The synth-spurred slickness of Twin Shadow's music could remind virtually any listener of the Prince-propelled eighties, but you would be doing Twin Shadow and its owner-operator George Lewis Jr. disservice by taking it at face value. The distinctiveness and idiosyncrasy of it rests in how Lewis Jr. as an artist takes those sounds and influences and manifests something fresh out of them. He has the ability to breathe new life into something aged, and on the two albums he has created as Twin Shadow, Lewis Jr. has harnessed the powers of his own unfiltered, uncut emotion and combined it with the sensibilities and sounds of the music he enjoys.
Like any act that wears their emotions on their sleeve, Twin Shadow's music is driven by the way he communicates and channels those inner rumblings and roars. From the way he performs the chorus on "When the Movie's Over" to the moment in"You Call Me On" when he softly, but bitterly professes to the song's subject that he "doesn't give a damn about their dream," the passion is present. Even outside of what he does in the studio or on tour, it seems Lewis is someone who has found the most solace in music that might as well layer its own beat with actual heartbeats.
"I've always had a soft spot for ballads. They're the most immediately emotional and they're set up to open you up. They're slow -- they really leak in. They don't smash you in the face, they just kind of go right to your heart in a way," he says.
"I used to listen to Bo Diddley all the time -- there's an attitude in the music that I haven't heard since. They're used to be these songs on his records with two guys playing guitar, and they're playing in the same chord over and over again just talking bad to each other. Talking bad about the way they look, just talking shit basically. And, while there's humor you also have this kind of real element to it -- this very honest thing. Just that rawness, and honesty in that music I certainly take with me to my lyrics."
And if there's one thing you can say about the way Lewis interacts with the outside world as Twin Shadow, it's that it's honest and raw. For someone who says his reason for becoming a musician is a "mystery" and that he doesn't really know the "why" of it, it's definitely something earnest and organic. When you read into albums like Confess you uncover something wholly heartfelt, and at the same time what you hear when you spin a Twin Shadow record is a balancing act between the George Lewis Jr. who makes music and the one who lives out his life as a human being. What he can't unleash as a citizen of this society, he can always put into songwriting.
"Some people kind of say to themselves: I'm going to be honest one hundred percent of the time and every single thought that comes to my mind I'll express and every first reaction will be the action I take. You can do that, but you're going to lead a pretty troubled life, because for the most part the people around you can't deal with that type of behavior, and that's why you suffer the consequences of the way you react. So, I certainly hold back a lot in real life so I can put in the music instead of just saying what I want to every second of the day."
And, by placing on a listenable format what otherwise would be left to boil and brew inside of him, Lewis creates Twin Shadow. In the arena of the abstract and art, the consequences can really only come through critical inspection, and at that point Lewis leaves it to interpretation.
"I remember I took an acting class once and the teacher saying 'if someone hates the performance or absolutely loves the performance, you're doing something right. If they go home and forget about it, you're doing something wrong.'"
Twin Shadow performs with Poolside and Mini Mansions at the Glass House in Pomona, Saturday, 8 p.m., $18. All ages.
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