Categories Billions Print Media Recap Review

Billions: How Damian Lewis’ Bobby ‘Axe’ Axelrod Returns in Season 7 Premiere

Tower of London Season 7 Episode 1

by Isaac Rouse | TV Insider | August 11, 2023

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Billions Season 7 premiere “Tower of London.”]

The road to the end of Billions has begun with the start of its seventh and final season, which brings Damian Lewis back as Bobby “Axe” Axelrod for one last showdown.

Axe did not give up his business empire easily. At the end of Season 5 of Showtime’s Wall Street thriller, a two-pronged attack drove him from New York City to Switzerland, turning him from a swaggering master of the universe into a financial fugitive. New York State Attorney General Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) falsely accused him of money-laundering charges. Meanwhile, his billionaire nemesis, Michael Prince (Corey Stoll), took advantage of the situation to acquire Axelrod’s assets below price. However, despite the setbacks, Axe has made a strong comeback with his charismatic and cutthroat demeanor still intact as he reenters the ring.

Continue reading Billions: How Damian Lewis’ Bobby ‘Axe’ Axelrod Returns in Season 7 Premiere

Categories Billions Print Media Review

Billions Season 7: Leaps of Financial Fantasy Saved by a Superb Cast

Superlative Acting

by Robin Wigglesworth | Financial Times | August 11, 2023

★★★☆☆

It’s hard to say exactly where Billions — the TV series about an increasingly fictional hedge fund manager, his legal nemesis and the spreading chaos left by their feud — went a little off the rails.

It might have been when the brilliant but junior analyst Taylor Mason was suddenly promoted to chief investment officer of what is supposed to be one of the world’s biggest hedge funds, only to jump ship and then be bought back. Or perhaps the entire plot line around a serpentine Russian oligarch Grigor Andolov played by John Malkovich. And even in this day and age, the US Treasury secretary doing a bit of gleeful insider trading is a tad implausible.

Continue reading Billions Season 7: Leaps of Financial Fantasy Saved by a Superb Cast

Categories Billions Print Media Review

Billions Offers a Wealth of Entertaining Moments in Final Season

Axelrod’s Back and Prince Eyes the White House

by Richard Roeper | Chicago Sun-Times | August 9, 2023

“Billions” features a total of 11 primary cast members, and it’s a tribute to the deep bench of this financial drama that at least a half-dozen other members have their moments to shine. Based on the six episodes I’ve seen of a 12-chapter final run, it’s evident showrunners Brian Koppelman, David Levien and Andrew Ross Sorkin are poised to close things on a high-stakes note — although there reportedly are plans for a number of spinoffs, including “Millions” and “Trillions.” (I’m in!)

Featuring some of the most impressive production values, needle drops and ensemble acting of any series of the last 10 years, “Billions” has been a signature title in the Showtime arsenal since 2016 — and the complex and intertwining storylines are further boosted in the home stretch with the return of the screen-commanding Damian Lewis as the billionaire hedge fund legend and schemer extraordinaire Bobby Axelrod, who remains in exile overseas but might be poised to get back in the game.

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Categories Album Mission Creep Music Review

Damian Lewis Transcends Expectations with Mission Creep

Proves a Successful Actor-Turned-Musician Gambit

by David Nobakht | Buzz Magazine | June 22, 2023

DAMIAN LEWIS
Mission Creep (Decca)
★★★★

Whenever a successful actor makes an album, there will always be a high level of scrutiny and the sound of naysayers scraping their chairs at what is often perceived as being a superfluous vanity project made between trips to Hollywood – but Homeland and Wolf Hall star Damian Lewis’ Mission Creep breaks that mould. Growing up with Kerouac’s On The Road under one arm, Stones and Zeppelin albums under the other, Lewis travelled through Europe busking long before he could be seen on stage or screen.

His singing voice on Mission Creep lies somewhere between Gene Clark and Scott Walker, as the songs dip their toes into bluesy rock, folk and jazz. Fragile, folk-immersed opener ‘She Comes’ is worth the price of admission alone, as is ‘Down on the Bowery,’ and ‘Makin’ Plans’ is a song the Stones themselves might be proud to have under their belt. It’s evident that Lewis is both a passionate and accomplished songwriter, and his cover of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon is a beauty too.

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Categories Album Mission Creep Interviews Music Review

Rolling Stone: Damian Lewis on His Solo Album

‘Down On The Bowery’ Effortlessly Shows Capability of Lewis’ Voice and His Commitment to the Craft

by Nick Reilly  | Rolling Stone Magazine UK | June 22, 2023

As he releases his debut album, acting royalty Damian Lewis tells Rolling Stone UK why he’s under no illusions about proving himself as a musician. Damian Lewis has opened up on releasing his first ever solo album and why he’s ready to deal with any cynicism that his latest venture might attract.

Last week saw the Band of Brothers star release ‘Mission Creep’, a record of largely roots-y Americana, backed by an accomplished band of eclectic musicians. One stand-out highlight comes in ‘Down On The Bowery’, which effortlessly shows out the capability of Lewis’ voice and his commitment to the craft.

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Categories Album Mission Creep Gallery Music Music Festival Print Media Review

Review: Black Deer Festival 2023

Boutique Festival of Americana

by Trev Eales | Louder Than War | June 22, 2023

Sometimes, walking into a festival gives a feel for what’s to come. A dusty track leads through a wild flower meadow as people of all ages haul their weekend belongings towards the festival gate. There’s a small queue for the arena but everyone’s chilled and there’s a laid back vibe.

Stetsons and cowboy boots abound as we leave The Garden of England for a world of Americana. Rows of Harley-Davidsons celebrate the iconic bike’s 120th anniversary, and the smell of barbecues fills the air. The rustic Arkansas Porch Stage echoes with acoustic sounds of the deep south as the audience sit baking in the afternoon sun.

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Categories Album Mission Creep Music Review

Mission Creep Album Review: Clash Magazine

A More-Than-Admirable Passion Project: Lush Blues Sound

by Robin Murray  | Clash Magazine | June 19, 2023

Mission Creep
7/10

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.

Continue reading Mission Creep Album Review: Clash Magazine

Categories Album Mission Creep Music Review

Mission Creep Album Review: Music OMH

An Enjoyable Collection of Well Crafted Songs

by John Murphy | Music OMH | June 17, 2023

Mission Creep

An enjoyable collection of well crafted songs, mostly self-penned, defy expectations for a debut album from a successful actor. It’s easy to be cynical about seeing yet another middle-aged actor deciding that it’s not enough to be wildly successful in their chosen field. No, what they really want to do is music. History is littered with such characters – in the last few years alone, Kiefer Sutherland, Russell Crowe and, famously, Johnny Depp have all turned their hand to rock music, with varying degrees of success.

You sense that Damian Lewis, best known for roles in TV shows like Band of Brothers, Billions and Homeland knows this too. “It’s just what the world needs…another record by an actor” he’s said, while promoting Mission Creep. The fact that it’s another collection of ‘authentic’ bluesy rock is yet another reason to be wary.

And yet…against expectations, Mission Creep is actually pretty enjoyable. It may not be enough for Lewis to give up his day job, but it’s certainly a respectable collection of well crafted songs – most of which have been written by Lewis himself. His voice, while maybe not the strongest instrument, is full of soul and character, and when he tackles the more personal material on Mission Creep, you can see why this was a particular itch he had to scratch.

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Categories Album Mission Creep Music Review

Mission Creep Album Review: Financial Times

A Warm, Rich Debut

by David Cheal | Financial Times | June 16, 2023

Mission Creep ★★★★

When Damian Lewis made his acting breakthrough as a US army major in the second world war TV drama Band of Brothers, it came as a shock to many viewers to learn that he is British, such was the seeming authenticity of his American accent. Now, at 52, Lewis springs another surprise: he is a singer-songwriter of some distinction, here releasing his debut album.

The publicity blurb tells us that as a young man Lewis took off with a guitar and busked across Europe, and that he has long since yearned to return to making music. While the songs here are a long way from being “busked”, they nevertheless have a loose, rootsy quality, a sense of swing and spontaneity. Stylistically the album covers a broad spectrum, from folk-rock to jazz to glam, but its sonic palette — acoustic guitar, keyboards, saxophone and clarinet, bursts of electric guitar, stabs of Hammond organ — brings cohesion to this disparateness.

And then of course there’s the big question: Can he sing? There’s a chequered history of actors turning to music, some with success (Minnie Driver, Hugh Laurie), some less so (Russell Crowe). Lewis belongs firmly in the former camp, possessing a tenorish voice that’s firm and true, ascending at times to considerable heights. He can write a decent tune, too: most of the songs here are by Lewis, with a sprinkling of covers.

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Categories Album Mission Creep Music Review

Mission Creep Album Review: MOJO Magazine

Authentic Rootsy Debut Album

by John Aizlewood | MOJO Magazine | July 2023 issue

Damian Lewis
Mission Creep ★★★

DECCA. CD/DL/LP

Homeland actor’s authentic rootsy debut album.

In the ever-variable tradition of actors making records, Homeland/Billions star Damian Lewis is of the authenticity-seeking variety, i.e. he’s more Billy Bob Thornton than David Hasselhoff. This means covers of ‘Harvest Moon’ and, more predictably but more successfully, J.J. Cale’s ‘After Midnight,’ plus a clutch of warm, slightly jazzy originals in a similar rootsy vein. His voice is gently grizzled, whether adding grit to the otherwise supper-club ‘Wanna Grow Old in Paris’ or wigging out with reasonable conviction on ‘She Comes.’ Lyrically, he’s a touch too desperate for edge on ‘Soho Tango’ (“you took me to the toilet, gave me coke,” indeed); he seems to have a car accident in ‘Makin’ Plans,’ and there’s an all-round surfeit of sexual tension. But when everything gels on the excellent ‘Down on the Bowery’ and ‘Zaragoza,’ it’s really quite, yes, authentic.

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Categories Album Mission Creep Music Review

Mission Creep Album Review: Daily Mail

Heartfelt Songwriting Detour

by Adrian Thrills | Daily Mail | June 15, 2023

Mission Creep ★★★★

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.

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.

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Categories Album Mission Creep Music Music Festival Print Media Review

Live Review: Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Cracking Band

by Brian Payne | Jazz Journal | May 11, 2023

In mixed weather, this year’s Cheltenham Jazz Festival spanned six days from 26 April to 1 May. Most performances took place in Montpellier Gardens, the site of the Big Top and Jazz Arena. Other locations in town included the Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham Town Hall and the Daffodil Restaurant. The Daffodil is a restored 1920s cinema with a balcony, sweeping staircase and superb art-deco features.

I hadn’t come across Damian Lewis before. He’s a television and film actor by day yet here he was at Cheltenham fronting a cracking band. I was pleasantly surprised. Lewis sang and played a mix of roots, blues and rock ’n’ roll and his vocals and guitar accompaniment were spot on. Some of the numbers were his own compositions. He was backed by members of Kansas Smitty’s House Band with Giacomo Smith on alto saxophone, David Archer on guitar, Joe Webb on piano, Will Sach on bass and Will Cleasby on drums. Kitty Durham supplied backing vocals, hand-held percussion, harmonica and at times also guitar.

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