Lewis stands tall

March 06, 1997|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,SUN POP MUSIC CRITIC

It's never a good idea to base your expectations on what you see in a music video. Just ask Donna Lewis, who remembers being very much surprised to learn that, in real life, Sting was nowhere near as big as her TV made him seem.

"I thought, 'God! I thought you were about 6 foot,' when actually, he's about 5-8 or something like that," she says, laughing. "Much smaller than I thought."

Nor is Lewis quite what video viewers might suppose. Not only isn't she as elfin as she appears in the clip for "I Love You Always Forever" -- "I'm 5-foot-5," she says. "That's not too small, is it?" -- but neither is her music as pop-oriented and bubbly as that single.

"People still don't know me," she says. "They know the song 'I Love You Always Forever,' but they don't know much about me and what I'd done before."

Not that she blames them. After all, "I Love You Always Forever" was a massive hit, spending much of the summer just behind the mighty "Macarena" on the pop charts. Meanwhile, her earlier work, which recalls the thoughtful, progressive rock of Kate Bush, wasn't even released in this country.

Fortunately, the Welsh-born Lewis is more than happy to help listeners catch up, and to that end, she has embarked on her own personal version of an "unplugged" show, playing club dates with only an acoustic piano and a single bandmate, bassist and guitarist Tony Franklin.

"I want to show people that I'm not just a pop singer," she says. "I do write material with a lot of depth, and I'm a serious artist. And that's what's so great about doing this acoustic thing. It's getting back to basics, and just letting songs stand up on their own."

Of course, letting the songs "stand on their own" did involve a little fiddling with some of the material -- especially such beat-driven fare as "I Love You Always Forever."

"I started thinking, 'OK, I just have a piano now -- what am I going to do with this song?' " laughs Lewis. "The introduction and the verses are melodic, and that works with just the piano. But I had to rework the chorus, because it didn't sound so great singing that line 'I love you always forever.' It's got that nursery rhyme-type of feel. Didn't sound that great.

"So we reworked it. There's a different feel to the chorus now. But it's a really nice version, I'm happy with the way it turned out. And it's nice to be able to change that song, which I've done a thousand times. I mean, you know it's 'I Love You Always Forever' -- it just has a slightly different groove to it."

Donna Lewis

When: Tonight; doors open at 7 p.m., show ends by 10 p.m.

Where: Eight by Ten Club, 10 E. Cross St.

Tickets: $10

Call: (410) 481-7328 for tickets, (410) 625-2000 for information

Sundial: To hear excerpts from Donna Lewis' latest release, "Now In a Minute," call Sundial at (410) 783-1800 and enter the code 6106. For other local Sundial numbers, see the directory on Page 2A.

Pub Date: 3/06/97

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