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Sylvie Lewis

Sylvie Lewis

I reached my teens midway between the rock ‘n’ roll and disco eras, so my musical puberty was largely defined by such female singer-songwriters as Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Carole King, Janis Joplin and the McGarrigles-women who marched to their own drummers while maintaining a refreshingly self-actualized beat. The generation after mine witnessed an equally bracing wave of pop-rock post-feminism from the women of Lilith Fair. Lately, another torrent has started forming. At one end of the spectrum is the indolent cool of Norah Jones. At the other is the fearlessly vibrant iconoclasm of Nellie McKay. Somewhere in the middle, judiciously juggling the two extremes, is London-born, Los Angeles-based singer-guitarist Sylvie Lewis, making a dazzling debut with her aptly titled Tangos & Tantrums (Cheap Lullaby), a collection of 12 tart, intelligent tunes.

A self-described “anachronism” with a sound and style that suggest 1920s cabaret overlapping 1950s bohemia and overlaid with postmillennial dynamism, the twentysomething Berklee grad senses she was “born about 50 years too late, given my tastes and my tendencies. There are certain views I have that others might consider antiquated. I am completely overwhelmed by technology and think it’s very sad that technological advances have completely superseded our spiritual growth. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Also, a lot of things really matter to me that no longer seem important to society. Like manners, for instance. It’s all about respecting people. I tend to agree with my grandmother a lot!”

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