by Dave Segal
on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 4:04 PM
Lewis’ L’Amour album might be the most mystery-shrouded release in Light in the Attic’s history—which is saying something, as the Seattle/LA-based reissue specialists have a knack for unearthing records with mighty peculiar back stories.
According to record collector/blogger Jack D. Fleischer’s liner notes, not much is known about the auteur behind L’Amour, which was self released on the R.A.W. label in 1983. Lewis’ real name apparently is Randall Wulff, and on the cover shot done by Ed Colver, he looks like Nicolas Cage’s better-looking, blonder brother. Lewis reputedly lived at the Beverley Hills Hilton, dated a model-beautiful woman, drove a white Mercedes, and paid photographer Colver with a bad $250 check. Like most private-press albums, L’Amour went nowhere and Lewis pretty much vanished from the scene. And Colver’s still out a quarter grand.
Thankfully, Lewis left a low-key gem of an album that is one of the most minimal and shiver-inducing singer-songwriter opuses I’ve ever heard. Embellished with tasteful synthesizer sighs from Philip Lees, the 10 songs here feature Lewis delicately playing piano and guitar and singing in a voice that drifts somewhere in the vicinity of Nick Drake, Arthur Russell, and John Martyn—hushed and mush-mouthed (you can decipher like every five words Lewis sings, but it doesn't matter; the feelings come through clearly).
The general mood is lugubrious but oh-so light, every sound tickling your ears and causing little bouts of ASMR (a really good thing). This record should sound dippier than a collab between Dan Fogelberg and James Taylor, but through some strange force in the air at that time and in that Hollywood studio, L’Amour captures a poignant mournfulness and aloneness that make you want to elevate it into the pantheon next to Five Leaves Left and World of Echo.
Superficially, L’Amour scans as a hybrid of folk and country, but it’s so stripped of those genres' usual signifiers that it seems to exist in a hermetically sealed capsule, a stark yet lush specimen of West Coast melancholy, cut by a damnably handsome enigma. There’s a song on L’Amour titled “Things Just Happen That Way,” and that seems like a fitting epitaph for this record.
The CD for L’Amour came out in May; the vinyl version was just issued. Learn more about it here.