For better or worse, London singer calls to mind early Rufus Wainwright
Graced with wistful piano playing, sepia-toned arrangements and cabaret-ready melodies, London singer/songwriter Sylvie Lewis’ second album shares a young Rufus Wainwright’s seen-too-much-too-soon weariness. It also has the same affection for dusty song forms and, most importantly, a similarly deep well of sympathy hidden beneath its louche posturing. Lewis’ gift for reinvigorating anachronistic musical forms might be even stronger, at this formative stage, than Wainwright’s was. The twinkling, shimmering keyboards of “Just You” add languorous drama to the song’s simple folk melody, and some creepily insistent percussion sharpens the sinister edge of the rhumba-pop number “Old Queens, Monet and Me.” In a twist be?tting her clever lyrics, the biggest thing keeping Translations from being a real stunner is Lewis herself. Her airy, unaffecting voice can’t quite compete with the sumptuous music. Led by a more distinctive singer, this album would be excellent. As it stands, it is very good.