#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…

Tom Walker - What A Time To Be Alive.jpg

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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#Review: Leah McFall – INK (Mini Album)


   

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Leah McFall first came to the public attention as a runner-up on the second series of The Voice UK, back in 2013. Since then, she’s been busy crafting her sound and has finally released her first mini album, INK, which she will be touring throughout the UK, this month.

Leah McFall - INK

The title track, Ink’, is also the opening track of the mini album; it’s a subtle, laid-back song with haunting melodies and incredibly well-placed backing vocals that add a interesting depth to it. The song (and several others on the record) has strong resemblances with NAO.

‘Happy Human’ is an uplifting, full-on track with a positive message. ‘Bottle It’ stands out for it’s edgy sound – similar to the current tropical house trend but with her own, unique interpretation. ‘Colours At A Funeral’ is a raw, emotional song that has a deep soulfulness to it and is followed by another stand-out song, ‘Language’; the latter is a great song, probably the most poppy song (and my personal favourite) on the record. It’s a quite a blend of late 80s and 90s pop sounds and has that feel-good factor about it.

The closing track is Leah‘s first, independently released single, ‘Wolf Den’, which boasts an upbeat, quirky sound and really showcases just what she can do with her voice; whistle notes and all. It’s the perfect end to the whole mini album.

The production throughout, is what I’d describe as subtle yet intricate – it doesn’t scream out pop and it can’t easily be pigeon-holed, but that’s what makes it such a fantastic release. It’s very dreamy with seemingly simplistic production (although that’s most definitely not the case); it’s been impeccably well produced and each song makes an impact in a different way. Leah‘s powerful vocals and delicate ad libs have been layered beautifully and weave stunningly around the instrumentation, creating euphoric highs and emotionally-driven lows throughout the entirety of the record. It is an honest offering and almost exposes a vulnerability about the singer. This is undoubtably something fans will appreciate; an insight into her world.

In summary, this mini album has a lot to offer and is a very strong independent release that’s currently charting highly on the UK iTunes charts. Although she may not have won The Voice UK, her talent definitely outshines any other contestant to have graced the show previously or since. This release is a symbol of what fan power, self-belief and determination can achieve and her every success is deserved! Let’s hope a full-length album follows, and soon!

Rating
5


‘INK’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/ink-ep/id1206458926


INK on Spotify

INK on YouTube

Wolf Den (Official Video)

Bottle It (Official Video)

Happy Human (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of Leah McFall’s release! What do you think of the mini album? 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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#MellowMonday: Foxes – ‘Devil Side’


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Foxes is an incredible singer from Southampton, who we have previously featured. She is renowned for her vocals on Zedd‘s 2012 single, ‘Clarity’ and having released a string of up-tempo, fun pop tracks.

This particular song, ‘Devil Side’, is taken from her second album, All I Need, released earlier this year. It’s brimming with passion, emotion and powerful vocals; it’s perfect for #MellowMonday.

Since no official video has been released, below is a video of an acoustic performance of the song. It’s beautiful!

What do you think of Foxes’ latest album, All I Need? Have you got a similar #MellowMonday song for us? Please talk to us via our social media accounts of leave a comment below.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Devil Side’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/devil-side/id1019553218?i=1019553657


#Two4Tunesday: Olly Murs – ‘Kiss Me’ & Sia – ‘Alive’


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Olly Murs – ‘Kiss Me’

Olly Murs is back with his latest single, ‘Kiss Me’ and it’s a fantastic pop tune. It clearly takes influence from Nick Jonas’ huge summer anthem, ‘Jealous‘, but it is a well-sculpted song, in it’s own right, nonetheless. The song is taken from the upcoming re-release of his latest album, Never Been Better.

The video has just been released and sees Mr Murs getting up close and personal with a dancer. Good song, great beat, just pure fun.


‘Kiss Me’ can be downloaded from iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/kiss-me-single/id1039954847



Sia – ‘Alive’

Sia (Sia Furler) is like the queen of emotionally-driven songs and this is no exception to her equation. She is such a talented songstress and I admire the passion in this song more than anything. Her vocals in this song are one of the most outstanding vocal performances I think I’ve ever heard. She must’ve nearly destroyed her voice doing this, but my word does it pay off. Her raw emotion is clear and the devastating effect it creates will resound with you for quite some time.

Strangely, this song was written for Adele and rejected and then offered to Rihanna, and once again was rejected, however I couldn’t be happier about it; I don’t think either artist would have delivered this with the passion that Sia has and love this song immensely. No video has been released as of yet, but I expect something artistic to come, if her previous offerings are anything to go by.

*UPDATE* The official video has been released and sure enough, we got what we were expecting, however neither Maddie Ziegler nor Shia LaBeouf are featured this time. Instead, there is an adorable Asian girl doing some immensely impressive martial arts moves! Nice one Sia!

It is the first single taken from her upcoming album, This Is Acting.


‘Alive’ is available for download from iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/alive-single/id1041494871



Matt – Muzik Speaks
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