An ethereal, star-studded way forward
Emily Fortune
15:59 17th February 2021

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Embracing the escapist world of the 1970s NYC disco scene, the UK’s SG Lewis takes us into a new era on this highly-anticipated and daring debut. Hoping to create an opportunity to bring us into the present moment and remind us of the times we felt most free, this ten-track, star-studded project does exactly that. 

Setting the scene, the producer enlists the enigmatic and serene vocals of Canadian-native, Rhye, creating a relaxed tone as he edges you into the project with ‘Time’. The laid-back production, centred around simplistic percussion and playful synth-work allows the soulful, falsetto tone captured by Rhye to perfectly enhance the track making for an ethereal, sun-drenched feel.

Continuing to delve into his various influences, the second track, featuring the all-embracing artist Lucky Daye, elevates the energy. The upbeat instrumental led by its relentless drums and funk-infused bassline sits in perfect cohesion with the vocalist, allowing the producer to find pockets we haven’t yet seen him in. 

Steadily controlling the direction of the project, ‘Back To Earth’ brings a simple, soulful vocal for the hook whilst capturing an ever-evolving instrumental. Continuing to build an atmosphere with the sounds of festival crowds embedded into the background, this track acts as a perfect break before heading into one of the most high-profile features of the project.

‘One More’ sees the funk and disco crossover pioneer Nile Rodgers join SG. Using his lyrics to allow us to follow him on a typical night out, he’s able to capture the fight or flight moment of meeting someone and hoping they’ll "stay for one more song". As well as creating an intense and persistent production, SG proves his weight as a lyricist and his ability to tell a story not only through his sonic expression but through his songwriting capacity.

Bringing the energy levels down to a sombre swoon for ‘Heartbreak On The Dancefloor’, featured vocalist Frances brings an emotional melody, heighted by her delicate yet poignant vocals. Accumulating an array of sounds and textures within the instrumental, the producer is able to sonically portray the confusion and disarray of the track with ease.

Lead single 'Chemicals' holds euphoric melodies heightened by SG’s delicate, falsetto tone. He brings together a well-balanced concoction of vulnerability and soaring, optimistic production honing in on gritty-guitar lines hidden beneath the buoyant melody.

Heading towards the end of the wide-ranging project, the musician brings together the best of old and new with an intriguing collaboration from the forward-thinking, electro-R&B artists Robyn and Channel Tres. ‘Impact’ features a distinguished melody bolstered by Channel Tres’ deep and distinctive voice. Continuing to bring about an effortless balance, Robyn’s gentle harmonies swoon under the surface before coming through with her boundless vocals for the chorus, creating a beautiful dichotomy.

Rounding out this defiant debut, ‘Fall’ combines heavy instrumentation whilst opting for a sentimental melody and vulnerable vocal. The track acts as a tribute to all of the things that we have lost over the past year that allowed us to feel alive. "Can we fall in love again?" he asks.

The reflective nature, optimistic tone and varying sounds of this project capture a year of confusion and loss, but alongside that there’s a sense of gratitude and appreciation fuelling us into the future. Not only has SG Lewis provided an accurate portrait of the times he finds himself in but as the ever forward-thinking artist he is, brought his Nu-Disco sound into a new era.

Times is out 19 February via EMI. 

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Photo: Press