ADRIAN THRILLS: Romantic side to latest mission for Homeland star

ADRIAN THRILLS: Romantic side to latest mission for Homeland star Damian

DAMIAN LEWIS: Mission Creep (Decca)

Verdict: Heartfelt songwriting detour

Rating: ****

TOM GRENNAN: What Ifs & Maybes (Insanity)

Verdict: Feel-good songs for summer

Rating: ***

Damian Lewis knows exactly what he’s getting into here. ‘It’s just what the world needs… another record by an actor,’ says the film star, drily, of his new career as a singer-songwriter.

With fellow thespians Kiefer Sutherland, Hugh Laurie, Jeff Goldblum and Scarlett Johansson all having made albums in recent years — and Johnny Depp seemingly happiest with a guitar in his hands — he has a point.

But Lewis, 52, who played U.S. Marine Nicholas Brody in Homeland and Steve McQueen in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, is moving into music with honourable intentions, and his debut album, Mission Creep, is nothing like a vanity project or midlife crisis. 

My Little One finds Lewis delving into rockabilly. Why, the album’s only co-write (with Smith) is an old-fashioned New Orleans swing piece

A contemplative set of rock, folk and jazzy grooves, it’s a heartfelt affair with a natural feel.

After coming up with the songs, without co-writers, in lockdown, Damian was introduced to the London-based jazz musicians of Kansas Smitty’s House Band by the septet’s saxophonist Giacomo Smith, and it’s they who provide the bulk of the richly-varied backing here, with Smith and slide guitarist Dave Archer to the fore.

Inevitably, parts of this record reflect the recent turmoil Lewis has been through. His wife, Peaky Blinders actress Helen McCrory, died from breast cancer in April 2021, and it’s hard to listen to the raw but poetic folk song She Comes without viewing it as an elegy to her: ‘She comes as a blackbird, she comes as a fox, she sits at a window, she sings from a rock,’ laments Lewis.

But Mission Creep is otherwise romantic rather than sad. Hole In My Roof might be a chronicle of late-night despair, but its sense of melancholy is set to a jazz-funk backdrop. 

My Little One finds Lewis delving into rockabilly. Why, the album’s only co-write (with Smith) is an old-fashioned New Orleans swing piece.

There’s the odd throwback to the day-job. Rollicking blues number Never Judge A Man By His Umbrella is inspired by his portrayal of secret agent Nicholas Elliott in the espionage drama A Spy Among Friends.

There’s a touch of the over-enthusiastic fanboy to the album’s three covers, Neil Young’s Harvest Moon, JJ Cale’s After Midnight and Dr. John’s Such A Night.

But this is a playful yet poignant detour. Before becoming an actor, Lewis spent a summer busking his way through France and Spain with a guitar and a second-hand motorbike, making this the culmination of long-held dreams.

Given that he’s such a versatile singer, Grennan sells himself short in sidelining ballads

Like Jessie Buckley, the actress who made a Mercury-nominated album with guitarist Bernard Butler, he pulls off a dramatic switch with surprising aplomb.

  • He made his name as a gritty, blue-eyed soul man, but Tom Grennan gave a glimpse of what might have been in last weekend’s Soccer Aid charity football game. Voted player of the match for the second year running, the former Luton Town youth team winger also became the first person to play in the televised exhibition game and deliver the half-time show, a tricky assignment he nailed.

The Bedford singer, 28, brings a similar positivity to his third album, What Ifs & Maybes, combining big, booming choruses with upbeat messages. Ballads are thin on the ground.



Teaming up with Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, Chrissie Hynde sings beautifully on a six-minute piano ballad that is an excellent taster for the forthcoming Pretenders album, Relentless.

With Ed Sheeran opting to avoid instant ear-worms on his latest album, Subtract, there’s a vacancy for an earnest yet upbeat male pop star — and Grennan is vying with Lewis Capaldi to be this year’s man. Getting here hasn’t been plain sailing. 

His last album, Evering Road, addressed his guilt at the end of a three-year relationship. There was a rocky moment in February, too, when he remarked on Ellie Goulding’s metallic breastplate at the Brits. 

He quickly apologised, saying nerves had got the better of him, and Ellie agreed no harm had been intended.

Party anthems have never ranked high on his agenda, but What Ifs & Maybes changes that. 

He deploys his best falsetto on How Does It Feel, a finger-popping dance tune on which he begs an old flame for a second chance.

Remind Me finds two ex-lovers trying to recapture lost passion. Here, as sung at Soccer Aid, preaches togetherness.

Many of these tracks are co-written and produced with musician Andrew Wells, who supplies piano, guitar and bass, and they span an array of styles. Sleeping Rough is a Coldplay-like arena belter. Psychedelic Kisses, driven by twangy guitars and subtle beats, strives for the sunny optimism that is a calling card of Harry Styles and George Ezra.

Given that he’s such a versatile singer, Grennan sells himself short in sidelining ballads. Someone I Used To Know opens slowly but picks up pace, leaving just the closing track, You Are Not Alone, as a moment of sensitivity. 

It’s one of the best things here, boosted by the elegant strings of orchestrator Rosie Danvers, fresh from working with Noel Gallagher.

Maybe he’s leaving introspection for another day.

But What Ifs & Maybes, while it lacks the more subtle nuances of old, looks set to be one of the summer’s big pop albums.

  • Both albums out today. Tom Grennan plays outdoor shows this summer (tomgrennan Damian Lewis plays Black Deer Festival today and Union Chapel, London, on July 11 (

Source: Read Full Article

Previous post Time Out reveals the 10 best U.S. beach towns to beat the crowds
Next post MLB to start months-long approval process for Oakland Athletics’ move to Las Vegas – The Denver Post