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Single Premiere: Erika Lewis - Loser

By Jof Owen

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Asheville-based singer-songwriter Erika Lewis - best known as being an alumni of the legendary New Orleans street band Tuba Skinny - is set to step out into the spotlight on her own with her exquisite new album A Walk Around The Sun, a series of tender snapshots of love and loss, joy and grief, and longing and contentment.

It's a genuinely lovely record filled with sweetly melancholic songs that pick you up and spin you around in circles until you feel dizzy and disorientated, but in all the best ways. It’s been playing on repeat on the Holler stereo ever since we were sent a copy of it and we love it more with every listen.

Lewis cut her teeth busking in the streets of New Orleans’ French Quarter, after she relocated there in 2007 and started a band called The Magnolia Beacon with Meschiya Lake - now a notable figure in the traditional jazz scene. The pair worked out original material and earned a living by busking on the streets of the French Quarter before crossing the Atlantic to the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin, busking on the bridge or in Turkish markets in the daytime and hitting the local bars at night.

Upon returning to New Orleans, Lewis began busking again and joined a team of fellow street performers and friends, making traditional jazz and swing music as Tuba Skinny, along with various members of The Deslondes and Alynda Segarra of Hurray For The Riff Raff at one time or another. Eventually, she built up the momentum to record her own material outside of Tuba Skinny, taking inspiration from fellow New Orleans-based musicians, and songwriters like Kiki Cavazos, Sam Doores, Riley Downing and Meschiya Lake.

After a health scare in 2020 that required surgery that could damage her vocal cords and effectively end Lewis’ career, her friend Lani Tourville inspired her to make one last record before the surgery, in case she never had the chance to make one again. A Walk Around The Sun is the record she made in the face of it all, powering through the doubt and the fear to make an album of extraordinary scope and beauty, as if it might be her last.

She takes the boundless energy of the street corners into the studio with her on her debut long player. Produced by John James Tourville of The Deslondes and recorded in Nashville at Andrija Tokic’s analog paradise The Bomb Shelter, the album features 11 all-original songs that take in classic country, cosmic Americana and dreamy indie-folk, as she examines the connections between lovers and friends, and the effect of those relationships on the self.

The first taste of the album comes in the form of the joyously lilting country strut of ‘Loser’, premiering exclusively on Holler below.

"I wrote 'Loser' soon after moving away from New Orleans some years ago”, Lewis told us. “I was feeling confused about romantic relationships and the push and pull that seemed to come with them - thinking a lot about dedication and loyalty, heartbreak and broken promises, and the feeling that you would do anything in order to make it work - yet not really knowing what to do. In essence, I was feeling that way about New Orleans too, like I had done my best, and despite all the love, I had to move on, or at least try to."

Like the rest of the songs on A Walk Around The Sun, ‘Loser’ is somehow able to sweep up all the sadness and pain of the human condition and bundle it up into something sweet and strangely uplifting. Taking the clear-eyed charm of Gillian Welch or Laura Cantrell and adding a cheeky twist of girl group sass and a ‘Be My Baby’ backbeat behind its pedal steel and a sighing baritone guitar.

A Walk Around The Sun will be released on April 29th and available for pre-save and pre-order on February 15th.