Damian Lewis – Mission Creep

A labour of love from the famed actor...

The actor-turned-musician pathway is well worn by this point. Numerous stars of stage and Silver Screen have swapped their scripts for microphone stands, and it can sometimes feel like a diversion – a sort of adult gap year, in other words. Damian Lewis, however, is a little different; music was his first love, and in his youth he travelled across Europe, busking as he went. A perennial source of comfort and inspiration, in a way it’s a wonder the actor hasn’t recorded a full length project before.

‘Mission Creep’ is a mixture of fortune, and chance. Introduced to Giacomo Smith – leader of revered London jazz troupe Kansas Smitty’s House Band – Damian Lewis was able to build a band to augment his passions, allowing rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and jazz to sluice together. The songs on ‘Mission Creep’ – primarily original, with a smattering of covers – come from a personal place, offering tales of love, comfort, and loss.

While the performances aren’t about to reinvent the wheel, there’s enough here to certify ‘Mission Creep’ as a more-than-admirable passion project. The lush blues sound of ‘Zaragoza’ for instance perfectly blends his whisky-parched vocal with the excellent band surrounding him, while something like ‘Down On The Bowery’ has a trenchant sense of atmosphere.

Indeed, there’s a quiet sense of joy and release to much of the recordings. Laid down in his native North London, Damian Lewis feels uniquely at home; ‘Makin’ Plans’ has a mischievous quality, while something like ‘Soho Tango’ lives and breathes the illicit side of Central London after hours.

Naturally, the loss of Helen McCrory does linger over certain tracks. The choice of ‘Harvest Moon’ – with its heartbreaking take on “I’m still in love with you” – feels wholeheartedly personal, the soft reserve Damian Lewis employs making it feel all the more emotive.

Closing with ‘Such A Night’, the record is strong, and surprisingly gripping. The work of a real music fan let loose in the studio with his dream band, ‘Mission Creep’ is rewarding, and more than a little cathartic for its maker. On form like this, the acting world may have to do something special to win Damian Lewis back to the fold.

7/10

Words: Robin Murray

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