A Golden Treasure

Justin Lewis
Man In Motion (Independent)

By Tim Roberts

Any fan of S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders (the book, the movie or both) is instantly familiar with the scene where Ponyboy recites Robert Frost's poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay." Gold, Frost states, is nature's "hardest hue to hold" and just as "dawn goes down to day / Nothing gold can stay."

But contrary to Frost's famous lines, gold can stay. We can take the things we consider as golden, whether they're memories, knowledge of a job well done, or even a great song, and hold them as personal treasures. With Man in Motion, Louisville singer-songwriter Justin Lewis refutes Frost (just as The Outsiders does) in an assortment of small pieces of gold (just shy of a dozen), locked into a small, flat treasure box for us to open and enjoy.

Lewis's music isn't gold in the traditional music sense, as in each track will sell half a million copies. It's more of an attitude, a tone that each song has. It's as if each one was the theme song to a short movie shot outside on a warm afternoon in the autumn, where sunlight cuts through the turning leaves and everything we see is tinged in gold (to be sure, a lot of deodorant commercials in the 1970s also looked like that, but that's not pertinent to our discussion).

Throughout Man In Motion, Lewis's comfortably raspy vocals sing of the exploration of better ways to forsake loneliness ("Kane"), the romantic possibilities in starting a new relationship ("Your New Man"), the fears involved in escaping one (the dark, bluesy and syncopated "Devil Walks"), and where arriving at a destination is a metaphor for finding love ("My Kansas City"). Each song has a small bit of layered ambience in it, like a breeze that weaves its way through the warm, golden afternoons. And the whole production benefits from a score of Louisville and regional musicians, including Neil Lucas, Scott Davis, Dustin Spencer (who doubles as Lewis's co-producer), Emily Caudill, Brad Flood, Kristi Miller, and Stacy Page.

Since the price of gold is now at such high levels that would make even King Midas wear himself out touching everything in sight so he could cash in on the buying bonanza, it's something that's out of the price range for many of us. But as a commodity, the value is always at risk of falling. In that case, gold can't stay. But the gold we have in Man in Motion from Justin Lewis is the kind that's priceless.

And it stays with us anytime we play it, Ponyboy . Check out www.myspace.com/justinpaullewis for more.