Mr. Lewis & the Funeral 5
Before the World Beat You Down (Chicken Ranch)
Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., Nov. 30, 2018
Had a bad year? Local noir combo Mr. Lewis & the Funeral 5 spent 2017 suffering the deaths of two significant others, a divorce, and the exit of half the group. Artists, however, process tragedy by turning the universe's ill will into work. As such, third full-length Before the World Beat You Down filters sadness through the band's cabaret rock lens. That doesn't mean bombastic balladry, though. Instead, frontman Greg Lewis takes gloom for a spin on the dance floor by blending the jaunty waltzes of Weimar Berlin with a blues-infected roots dive. "You were quite content to wallow," he croons on "Daniel Died" over a funky thump that makes said declaration sound like a point of pride. Further bons mots like "You can count on me until I let you down again" and "Sticks and stones will break my bones" followed up with "Don't let 'em fool you, the words have the weight" put Lewis in the running as Austin's best lyricist. Rocking tango "Burn Down the Sails" and the tumbling 6/8 of "For Another Day" field sing-along bravado by injecting a drunken desperation to keep chins up in the face of agony. The Funeral 5 hit hardest on the final tracks, "See You Soon" and "This Dark Bedroom" marrying boozy romantic swagger with burning emotion that won't be silenced, decadence and defiance be damned.