Friday, April 26, 2019


"Skin: Ephram" 1999 (unfinished watercolor) 
In the early 90's, I was briefly obsessed with the music of a young singer named Ephram Lewis. Lewis was one of those emotion - soaked soul crooners that seemed to drop out of another era.
But he never emulated the past or tried to repeat it. Sonically his sound was certainly modern - awash in waves of warm synthesizers and gently echoing vocals but his lyrics were sharper and more thoughtful than usual for a pop RB record of the time:
Searching for a way out of so much pain/ 
sometimes to hurt is better than nothing
Let's live again
I'm a public face with a private life
You wanna get close enough to touch
Weave your lies 'cos I can't hide
Never touch my soul, I need that much
Is my skin just a veil I'm wearing
Protect me from the world
So with this armour to cover me
From tortured skies
I'll burn the body - breathe poisoned wine
Only laughter and forgetting
Turns out though, Lewis is a sad case. A young boy brit born into a large religious family, the talented singer/songwriter left home at the age of 16. Soon after, he was picked up by Elektra Records and released a beautiful album, entitled Skin. Blessed with soaring voice and a penchant for transcendent lyrics, the album was critically acclaimed and sold respectfully well, powered by the lovely single, Drowning In Your Eyes. 
Work on his following album brought him to LA where his long - suppressed homosexuality was finally out in the open. For so long he was a victim of his strict parents' beliefs, and now he was free.
However, one fateful night, The LA police received a call of a "naked man going crazy" at 1710 Fuller Ave, where he was living at the time. When the police arrived, investigators said that Lewis had become parnaoid and began climbing outside balconies, leaping from "from balcony to balcony" until he reached the top floors where he smashes an apartment window and began stabbing himself with a piece of broken glass. Lewis was tased or by the LAPD and either fell or jumped from the building and landed onto the courtyard below. Lewis had been taking methamphetamines that night prior to his death and it was ruled by the coroner's office as a suicide. Now a gay icon, musically all that remains of Lewis' career is the single album he completed, Skin, which I think is a minor masterpiece. Despite its creator's tragic end, this small legacy deserves to be revisited.

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