Tom E. Lewis: ’70s star of The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith, ’80s stage and screen actor, ’90s world-travelling jazz-didge virtuoso. It’s fair to say Lewis has seen a few things in life.

Born in Ngukurr in the Northern Territory, exiled from his community in 1985, even having a death warrant placed on him, Lewis has spent the rest of his life travelling or living in his home in St Kilda.

With the kind of life he’s led, it’s no wonder the man has a natural ability for storytelling and heartfelt musical ability which can swing from country ballad to drunk ramble in the night. His latest albumBeneath The Suncaptures this beautifully, and boosts Lewis’ natural talents with wonderful production, fleshing things out with brass and strings from Melbourne contemporary musician Erkki Veltheim.

Opener ‘Angels’ possesses the same confidence and swagger you would expect from a Springsteen song, while ‘Can’t Change Your Name’ has Lewis hissing over banjo and striding guitar and bass lines. ‘Cherie L’Amour’ provides the strongest dose of Lewis’ personal charisma.

Beneath The Sunis a refreshingly down-to-earth album that delivers skilful musicianship combined with earnest songwriting.

4/5 stars

Out now on Skinnyfish/MGM

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