#Review: Tom Walker – What A Time To Be Alive

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Tom Walker is a Scottish-born, singer-songwriter that has continued to grow and rise to fame over the past 12 months or so. Aside from relentless touring, he started gathering mainstream attention with the BBC putting him in the running for their Sound of 2018 accolade. Then came the release of his massive single, ‘Leave A Light On’, which received heavy radio airplay, leading to a performance on X Factor. Now 2019 has kicked off with in style, with him winning the Brit Award for 2019’s British Breakthrough Act…and all of this has happened before the release of his debut album! Well, it’s finally here, What A Time To Be Alive and here’s what we have to say about it…

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Passion. Power. Personal. Three words that can’t help but swim through my mind as I listen to Tom Walker‘s debut album, What A Time To Be Alive. All three qualities are beautifully and intricately interwoven too – there is passion and power behind his vocals – both in what he sings and the way he sings it – and the personal songwriting leads to their prominence…and this wouldn’t be such a remarkable record without even one of those elements.

We’re catapulted into the album with ‘Angels’; a track starting out raw and edgy but endlessly continuing to build to a huge crescendo, complete with bells and strings, becoming an intricately layered behemoth of a track by the end, topped off with Tom’s intensely passionate and gritty vocals.

This is soon followed by the hit single, ‘Leave A Light On’, which despite being such a massive single, is interestingly, probably one of my least favourite tracks on the album. It’s a great song lyrically and thematically and I can see exactly why it was such a hit but I honestly preferred the original version, before the off-key synth sounds became so prominent. Also, there’s so much more to love about the album!

He has successfully crafted an outstanding debut album that takes elements from many different genres and styles, mashing them up into the perfect concoction of contemporary pop.

The biggest tracks on the record have to be: ‘Not Giving In’ – haunting wind chimes trickle delicately into the intense track, where echoing vocals and programmed drums lead the verses into the passionate chorus that seems to swirl around you, engulfing with its honest emotion; ‘How Can You Sleep At Night?’ is vocally one of the most diverse songs on the album – quiet, low tones in the verses are pushed by thunderous drums to a chorus of what could be described as vocal hoots and a downward zigzagging of his voice. Melodically, it’s a rather playful track, even though it’s about an intimate subject.

‘My Way’ is a real genre-bender; hip-hop-style drum beats, oriental-tinted synths, a repetitive hook and wonderful production trills, such as subtle, underlying female vocals, make this one of the best songs on the record. An effortless breakdown calms the mood right before bursting back into the repetitive, yet highly addictive chorus. Think EDM elements meet rock with a slightly Asian-flavoured edge.

And of course there’s ‘Fade Away’ which has a very Tom Odell-sounding melody, in places. It’s an emotionally devastating, piano and string-led track, that honestly brings tears to the eyes. Naturally, in its more heightened moments, Tom’s signature, raspy vocals shine through but during the quieter parts, his interesting annunciation and poetic lyricism make this track truly bewitching.

This is a stunning, diverse album that is sure to make massive waves throughout the industry and I’m certain will be a benchmark album for years to come.

‘Now You’re Gone’ featuring Zara Larsson is very electronic in tone with laser-like bass notes and a broken-up rhythm, ‘Blessings’ has an Ed Sheeran vibe and takes a candid look at the modern lifestyle, whilst ‘Dominoes’ is a very political track and another honest take on the state of the world right now, becoming wonderfully chaotic and grungy by the end.

Intrigue doesn’t stop there either, ‘Cry Out’ is like a dark western soundtrack (somewhat reminding me of the Peaky Blinders theme) with chain-clinking sounds giving it a laborious edge and ‘Just You And I’ is an old fan favourite – a big, positive love song. Possibly the most captivating track on the record has to be ‘The Show’ – a story-like track about London that really gives the sense of physically moving through the city streets, just listening to it. It has a real jazzy feel which sound effects weaving throughout the storytelling.

One thing’s for certain, Tom Walker has a very unique blend of styles throughout his music; reggae and urban vibes, with subtle hip-hop undertones are met by electronic synth elements and drum pads, combined with real instruments and rock-tinted vocals all underpinned by sincere, heartfelt (and even occasionally political) lyrical themes. I think I can even detect Bob Marley influences in places – reggae sounds and political themes…or is that just me? Sure, at times his voice is quirky and high-pitched but that is met in equal measure by the grittier, growlier and more powerful moments.

You can’t help but want to compartmentalise him as a singer-songwriter or a pop star but he truly breaks every mould you try to apply him to. He has successfully crafted an outstanding debut album that takes elements from many different genres and styles, mashing them up into the perfect concoction of contemporary pop. Despite being an eclectic collection, it still manages to be entirely cohesive. This is a stunning, diverse album that is sure to make massive waves throughout the industry and I’m certain will be a benchmark album for years to come.

It can only get bigger for him from here and I can’t wait to see what new heights Tom Walker soars to next…I’m just pleased I got to see him at The Green Door Store in Brighton (review here) before it all took off.

Rating
5


‘What A Time To Be Alive’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/what-a-time-to-be-alive/1435094194


What A Time To Be Alive on Spotify

Leave A Light On (Official Video)

Just You and I (Official Video)

Angels (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Tom Walker’s stunning debut, What A Time To Be Alive? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Two4Tunesday: The Weeknd – ‘I Feel It Coming’ featuring Daft Punk & Bebe Rexha – ‘I Got You’


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The Weeknd – ‘I Feel It Coming’ featuring Daft Punk

I’m often hit or miss with The Weeknd‘s songs but recently, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his collaborations with Daft Punk.

Having released his single ‘Starboy’ to huge success, his album (of the same title) has followed suit.

This particular track is less ominous than ‘Starboy’ and steps up the funk factor; it’s a great song and looks set to be a new single since it’s being featured on BBC Radio 1 at the moment.

No official video has been released yet, but as always, we’ll keep you up to date with this.


‘I Feel It Coming’ is on iTunes for downloading now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/i-feel-it-coming-feat.-daft/id1156443286?i=1156443908



Bebe Rexha – ‘I Got You’

‘I Got You’ is the second single to be taken from Bebe Rexha‘s upcoming, debut album All Your Fault.

Bebe has been hard at work writing songs for others and being a featured artist on many others’ tracks but now she’s stepping up to the centre stage.

This song continues in a similar vein of pop but stands out in its own right. Sadly, it hasn’t seen as much success her single with Martin Garrix‘In The Name of Love’ but I’m sure her album will be a huge hit with fans.

No official video has been released for this yet either, but we’ll keep you posted.


‘I Got You’ can also be downloaded from iTunes now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/i-got-you/id1168315039?i=1168315046


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#Two4Tunesday: Major Lazer – ‘Cold Water’ featuring Justin Bieber & MØ & Charlie Puth – ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ featuring Selena Gomez


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Major Lazer – ‘Cold Water’ featuring Justin Bieber & MØ

Once again, Major Lazer have teamed up with previous collaborators, Justin Bieber and  to create a new, surefire hit, in the form of ‘Cold Water’.

‘Cold Water’ was penned by Benny Blanco and Ed Sheeran among others and features two awesome vocalists. It has major influences from the tropical house genre, as well as some dance style to it too. It’s a very vibrant song and sure to be a hit this summer, probably similarly to their previous smash hit, ‘Lean On’.

What are your thoughts on this new Major Lazer song?


‘Cold Water’ is on iTunes for downloading now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/cold-water-feat.-justin-bieber/id1135417855



Charlie Puth – ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ featuring Selena Gomez

Charlie Puth rose to fame mainly after his feature on the Wiz Khalifa track, See You Again. Since then, he’s had a string of hits and most recently he released ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ from his debut album, Nine Track Mind.

This song is also tropical house in style with influences of dance – it’s actually beautifully crafted – the duet vocals sit nicely on top of the house beat and remain relaxed yet catchy in their feel. Although it hasn’t done amazingly in the charts, it caught my attention when I heard Nick Grimshaw play it on Radio 1 recently!

No official video has been released but I’ve included a live version as well as a YouTube audio video. *UPDATE* An official video has now been released – it’s really interesting with the split screen but it’s a shame he didn’t get Selena Gomez in it too.

Have you checked out this track yet? What are your opinions of it?


‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ can also be downloaded from iTunes now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/we-dont-talk-anymore-feat./id1041127262?i=1041127302


We Don’t Talk Anymore (Live Performance)

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Two4Tunesday: Elle King – ‘Ex’s & Oh’s’ & Izzy Bizu – ‘White Tiger’


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Elle King – ‘Ex’s & Oh’s’

Elle King is an alternative pop/pop rock/alternative rock singer who burst onto the scene with her debut single, ‘Ex’s & Oh’s’ back in September 2015.

Her song is about past relationships and the music video is rife with innuendo! The song itself received two nominations at the 58th Grammy AwardsBest Rock Performance and Best Rock Song and it’s clear to see why! It’s a massive tune!

Also, Joe Ragosta (from Patent Pending) recently revealed that this is one of his favourite songs right now, in his Skype interview with us, for Muzik Speaks.


‘Ex’s & Oh’s’ is on iTunes for downloading now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/exs-ohs/id941366731?i=941366737



Izzy Bizu – ‘White Tiger’

Izzy Bizu is a new, soulful pop singer from London, UK. To date she has released several singles and she was longlisted on BBC’s Sound Of 2016 list.

She is now gearing up to release her debut album, A Moment Of Madness, in May 2016 and judging by her releases so far, it’s set to be awesome!

Show your support for this song by sharing the link to this post!


‘White Tiger’ is on iTunes for downloading now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/exs-ohs/id941366731?i=941366737


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#MellowMonday: Alex Parks – ‘Get Out’


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If you’re thinking you remember her from anywhere, it’s from BBC’s Fame Academy. Alex Parks had a short-lived career following her Fame Academy win. She had two albums, ‘Introduction’ and ‘Honesty’.

This particular track is taken from her sophomore album, ‘Honesty’, but was never released as a single, and so therefore no video was ever released (see the fan-made video below).

The song is the perfect chill-out pop song and shows off her sensational vocals perfectly. It’s a great way to start the week!

I also love this song as it has so many memories for me and one of my best friends and our trip to South Africa.

Do you remember Alex Parks? Were you a fan? Where is she now? She parted ways with her label in 2006 and hasn’t been seen since… curious!

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Get Out’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/get-out/id82090523?i=82090557


#Two4Tunesday: The 1975 – ‘UGH!’ & Coasts – ‘You’


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The 1975 – ‘UGH!’

The 1975 sure know how to kick up a fuss…in a good way! They’ve got everyone talking about the follow-up to their debut album.

So far they’ve released Love Me and now are releasing ‘UGH!’, both taken from the upcoming album, ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’ due out on 26th February 2016.

This song still has that typical The 1975 feel, but turns it up a notch with the awesome! No video has been released yet, but we’ll sure keep you in the loop.


‘UGH!’ is out now on iTunes; please show your support! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/ugh!/id1062701750?i=1062702160



Coasts – ‘You’

In a similar vein to The 1975, I am bringing you Coasts. This Bristol-based band have gained support from the likes of Huw Stephens (Radio 1) and have sold-out shows at London’s Camden Barfly.

The five-piece consist of Chris CainesLiam WillfordJames GamageDavid Goulbourn and Ben Street.

I hope you like this song, as I think it’s cracking…so sit back, turn it up and enjoy! Once again, no video has surfaced as of yet, but we’ll keep you up to date.

The group are gearing up to release their self-titled debut album on 22nd January 2016 and I cannot wait to hear it!


‘You’ is available for pre-order on iTunes and is due out 01/01/16 now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/you-single/id1048783879


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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