Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears return with their most subversive record to date, The Difference Between Me & You. Marking the group’s fifth studio album, The Difference Between Me & You is an exploration of the sordid trappings of ego; isolation, consumption, waste, and war. Sonically inspired by the hill country blues of Junior Kimbrough, cowpunk style of The Gun Club, and the southern soul of Stax, the album charts new territory with a heavy stream of lyrical consciousness.
Recorded in their hometown of Austin, Texas, with Grammy award winning producer Stuart Sikes (The White Stripes, Cat Power, Modest Mouse), this familiar environment provided a “hands-on style of production with, open, creative interaction between the entire band [for the first time]”, explains Black Joe Lewis.
The Difference Between Me & You works to explore the human psyche through an impassioned and introspective lens. Mining his first decade of experience on the road, The Difference is influenced by a deep repertoire of sounds: the heavy grooves of Albert King, punked-up blues of R.L. Burnside, the storytelling of Bobby “Blue” Bland, and the soulfully layered horns of the Rolling Stones, are all omnipresent throughout.
A Texas native, Lewis discovered his love for the blues & guitar work from an early age. “I grew up on hip-hop and whatever my dad was listening to—Springsteen, Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway and the like—but once I picked up the guitar I started getting into the deep cuts. My early days of crate digging helped shape the band’s experimental style,” he recalls. “It wasn’t even until my late teens that I first picked up a guitar, after getting a job at a pawn shop. I taught myself some chords on lunch breaks.”
With The Difference, “I wanted to make a more complex and reflective record than I ever have before,” Lewis explains. On opening track “Nothing but a Cliché”, he carps about an old acquaintance whose interests were best suited only for themselves. Similar themes of derision are included on tracks “No Rhyme or Reason” and “Culture Vulture”, expanding on the vices & followers within society. But just as quickly as Joe systematically ridicules the world around him, the album turns inward. “Face In The Scene” reveals the story of an existential scenester addicted to the limelight. Both mature and adventurous, balancing between a 4/4 & 6/8, the song carries a booming groove. “Suit or Soul” brings forth a thoughtful ballad about the type people you surround yourself and what their true intentions are.
On The Difference Between Me & You, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears traverse a lifetime of physical and metaphysical experiences, characterized by looking in the mirror and asking yourself the tough questions. Lewis ultimately succeeds in pulling off a rare feat: creating an informed “real blues” record.
As Lewis explained to Live For Live Music, “We wanted to make a real blues album. We were tired of seeing all this watered down pop stuff come across as “blues” music. A lot of the thematics, like most real blues music, are rooted in experience; both professionally & personally. Whether it’s from what I’m seeing in America coming out in songs like ‘Culture Vultre’ & ‘No Rhyme No Reason’ or singing about dedication ie: ‘Nothing But A Cliché. We’ve lived it and been exposed to every level of the music industry from the major label rat race to grinding it out in shitty clubs. I just wanted to write about the people and things we see around us. Something more urgent and reflective than we’ve done in the past.”
He continues, “Before I got my band, the Honeybears, together I was just playing Little Walter and Howlin’ Wolf covers with whoever I could get together around ATX. I was listening to a lot of Lightning Hopkins & Magic Sam when I was learning guitar so I naturally wanted to play blues. I thought being a bluesman would be the greatest job in the world. I was really inspired by Little Joe Washington over in Houston, jamming out and getting wild for the people. I like how blues is just about what you see and go through in life and just writing songs about it all.”
Listen to Black Joe Lewis’ The Difference Between Me & You below:
For a list of upcoming Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears dates, head to the official website.