Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears return with their most subversive record to date: 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. This is The Difference Between Me & You.
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]” Lewis said. The band’s fifth studio album works to explore the human condition 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 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.