The Mo7s are preparing to release a new album that spans genres from Latin and jazz to surf rock
WRITTEN BY DON BOTCH
The basement of Dave Lewis' house at the corner of "37th and Solitude" in Exeter Township is his playground.
That's where he built the recording studio and the workshop where you can find him making music or building guitars at just about any hour of the day or night.
Lucky for him, his work is his play and his play is his work.
"It's exhausting but fun," he said from his seat at the soundboard. "This is all I do: work on guitars and music. It doesn't stop."
His partner in music and life is his wife, Amy (Tomaszewski) Lewis, who has been singing and strumming on Berks County stages for the past 20 years.
The two met at an open mic in 2011 and have been inseparable ever since.
Together, they pour their hearts and souls into Mo7s (say "moe-sevens"), a do-it-yourself undertaking that knows no bounds, as evidenced by their new, 14-song, genre-defying CD called "Big Deal," which they'll celebrate with a show Saturday night at Mike's Tavern. Joining them will be Chuck Steinle on drums and Terry O'Boyle on bass.
The songs on the new record range from Motown to rock to rockabilly. Some are country-tinged, some Latin. The jazzy "Livin' Life Blues" would fit right in at a piano lounge.
The one constant throughout is Amy's vocals, which are front and center, where they belong. Her voice, breathy yet powerful, is the band's defining quality.
Dave, meanwhile, delights in filling in the nooks and crannies with sounds of all sorts. He plays drums, bass and keyboards on the record, plus some triangle (the only thing on the record that got autotuned — it was hitting the wrong note) and even a little kazoo (filtered through a distorted guitar amp program).
On the opening track, "Move," you get eight Daves, and that's just in the Temptations-inspired backing vocals.
"Amy was at work one day, and we had the basics of the song recorded, and I thought, 'This needs something,'" he said. "So I went into the booth and did a backup to her vocal, then added another and another and another. I did four-part harmony, then I doubled it, so it's eight of my voices. I call it the Mo7s Eight."
While the Lewises bring plenty of their own goodness to the table musically, there's no conceit. They're happy to invite musician friends (Steinle, Kerry Renninger, Rick Tomlinson, Marty Hill) over to contribute, and they allow them to take the songs where they will. Several underwent radical transformations.
For instance, "Sheeple Life," a song about people following the herd, started out as a swing number until Steinle walked in with a drum part that changed everything. Dave ended up redoing his guitar part, and the song took on what Amy describes as a surfy, eerie, Tom Waits kind of vibe.
"It's fun to see the songs grow up," Dave said.
Despite approaches that varied drastically from one song to the next, somehow it all came together as a cohesive whole.
"There's definitely a lot of different genres on there," Amy said. "It's kind of eclectic."
"We go from songs where the entire song only has 10 tracks to songs that easily have 14 tracks of just percussion," Dave said. "To go from one to another and make it sound like it's from the same band or belongs on the same album, to me it's fun."
Thematically, the songs run the gamut from love to hate.
"We like to joke and say hatred-of-humanity songs," Amy said.
"Marry Me" is a duet Dave wrote as his marriage proposal to Amy, while the album closer, "Everyone," is a waltz inspired by Dave's decision to quit Facebook. It ends with a chorus of 10 of their friends singing, "Everyone, everyone, I hate everyone."
"I portray a circus ringmaster, almost," Dave said. "This megaphone-type voice comes in and makes this motivational speech to rise up and not be like everyone else — dare to be different. So it's a hatred-for-humanity song, but in a fun, silly kind of way."
There are even two instrumental tracks: "Milk Dud Farm," featuring organ reminiscent of Booker T's "Green Onions," and the aforementioned "37th and Solitude," a nod to Dave and Amy's happy place, where a couple of dozen guitars occupy wall space most couples would devote to art.
Dave said he wrote the original version, recorded it, shot video on their property and posted it to YouTube all in one day in November 2017:
"The name is '37th and Solitude,'" he said, "because I was home, just here, in the studio, by myself — just me and my guitar."
By Gerard Longo
Husband and wife duo Dave and Amy Lewis, best known musically as Mo7s, have returned with a fresh sound sure to make you “Move.”
“Move” is, of course, the title of the rock duo’s new single. Staying true to its name, the single features an uptempo, rock and roll dance groove to support Amy Lewis’ trademark soulful alto, which is complemented nicely by backing male harmonies that call Motown to mind.
Meanwhile, Dave Lewis’ impeccable guitar work shines once again, particularly with a clean opening riff that immediately pops, as well as a grittier, bluesy solo that begins at the 1:40 mark.
VIDEO: Mo7s’ ‘State of Mind’ Offers Lonely Look at Love
By Gerard Longo
The pensive, searching guitar work and lonely, haunting melody of Mo7s’ “State of Mind” make a listener think deeply about the transience of interpersonal relationships, acknowledging the ease with which people fall out of love and move on to something new.
The striking poignance of the tune, from the duo’s most recent release, “Gift Horse,” now has a perfect visual companion.
The video, shot in standard definition with an overlaying vintage projector effect, was shot inside and around an old country house and features Amy Tomaszewski (vocals) and Dave Lewis (guitar) performing their duties in separate rooms. The two never appear together in the nearly four-minute video, perhaps to further capture the stark, isolated feeling of forgotten love.