#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:

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#Review: Matt Maltese – Bad Contestant


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Atlantic Records - SmallerMatt Maltese is a piano-led, 21-year-old, singer-songwriter, who pens songs that are both emotionally intelligent and satirical at the same time. Having recently toured with Isaac Gracie (review), he is now releasing his debut album, Bad Contestant, through Atlantic Records. Here are our thoughts…

Matt Maltese - Bad Contestant.jpg

Matt Maltese‘s debut, Bad Contestant, is jam packed full of wisdom beyond his years but served up with equal doses of cutting humour, hilarious irony and pure over-exaggeration. This is an artist who merges, at times, understated yet sultry melodies and retro sounds with stunning lyrical craftsmanship to create his own unique style.

Album-opener, ‘Greatest Comedian’, begins with an unassuming introduction before launching into a fantastic set of back-handed compliments topped off with some intriguing instrumentation and beautiful higher-pitched vocals in the chorus; very similar to something by label-mate, Will Joseph Cook.

Title-track, ‘Bad Contestant’, has some seriously funky synth sounds and sees Maltese take on the character of an overly honest and confessional yet fruitless game show contestant.

This is very much an album where jazz and a touch of britpop meet funky, organ-led soul.

Meanwhile, ‘Nightclub Love’ is deeply satirical look at how Maltese sees the realities of clubbing and finding love there, whilst ‘Less & Less’ is an extremely saddening break-up song that is both beautiful and also attempts to put a positive spin on the situation. Of course we can’t go without mentioning the wonderful track, ‘As The a World Caves In’; a hysterical tale of the unlikely hooking up of Donald Trump and Theresa May, watching the nuclear destruction of the world as they do it; genius!

Other key tracks worth taking note of, include; ‘Sweet Sixteen’, an organ-led track taking a twisted look at a modern relationship – the sound is very much somewhere between Kaiser Chiefs and Blur, ‘Like A Fish’ which sounds like the opening to an old, 80s, British TV show and ‘Misery’ which is a dark and intense track with some reverse-sounding vocals on the chorus. In fact, the latter half of the album appears to get darker as it goes on.

The album features production and collaboration by a combination of Jonathan Rado, Hugo White (Maccabees) Alex Burey.

This is very much an album where jazz and a touch of britpop meet funky, organ-led soul, all dressed up in a hipster outfit and sung with a deep, crisp and crooning vocal. Picture BlurPulp and Jamiroquai creating some sort of spliced-together lovechild that’s been brought into the modern, contemporary age and you get Matt Maltese‘s debut, Bad Contestant. A truly alluring debut that is sure to pave the way for an exciting career ahead.

Rating
4


‘Bad Contestant’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/bad-contestant/1365077870


Bad Contestant on Spotify

Greatest Comedian (Official Video)

As The World Caves In (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this singer-songwriter’s uniquely captivating debut album? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or via our social media.


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

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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


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#Two4Tunesday: Louis Tomlinson – ‘Just Hold On’ featuring Steve Aoki & M.O – ‘Not In Love’ featuring Kent Jones


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Louis Tomlinson – ‘Just Hold On’ featuring Steve Aoki

Since breaking away from One Direction for a while, Louis Tomlinson has just released his first solo track, ‘Just Hold On’ featuring massive house producer Steve Aoki.

The track was first performed live at this year’s X Factor final, just days after his mum passed away and what an emotional performance it was! It saw Louis really take flight as a solo performer with a hugely successful reception from fans. It’s a really fantastic song – check it out!

No official video has emerged yet, but I’m sure something will; we’ll keep you posted.


‘Just Hold On’ is on iTunes for downloading now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/just-hold-on/id1183932067?i=1183932438



M.O – ‘Not In Love’ featuring Kent Jones

After the hugely successful Who Do You Think OfM.O are back with a new song, ‘Not In Love’ featuring Kent Jones.

The song sees the trio continue in a similar vein of R&B/Pop – the song is very current but somehow remains unique. It’s got some serious reggae vibes to it, topped off with Kent Jones‘ rap verse. Turn this one up!

Again, there’s no official video yet, but when something emerges, we’ll let you know,


‘Not In Love’ can also be downloaded from iTunes now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/not-in-love-feat.-kent-jones/id1180246615?i=1180246677


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#ThrowbackThursday: Less Than Jake – ‘The Rest Of My Life’


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American ska-punk band, Less Than Jake, released their song ‘The Rest of My Life’ around 10 years ago now.

I love this song as it came out during my late teen years and it reminds me of a lot of those times. The song is very different to a lot of their previous releases as it takes on a more mature and mellower sound to their usual up-beat, fast-paced, in-your-face ska punk vibes.

The song was taken from the band’s sixth studio album, In with the Out Crowd, and was actually co-written with Mark Hoppus from Blink-182.

What are your thoughts on this track? Does it evoke any memories for you? Have you never heard it before? Please share your thoughts or own #ThrowbackThursday tracks in a comment below or via our social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘The Rest Of My Life’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-rest-of-my-life/id153452833?i=153452985


#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.

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


#MellowMonday: Sia – ‘Breathe Me’


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Sia has well and truly established herself as a talented songstress now, penning hits for a whole host of big names, but she is also one hell of a performer herself!

She has had massive hits recently with ‘Chandelier’, ‘Elastic Heart’ and ‘Alive’ but before she became as big as she is today, ‘Breathe Me’ was released. This ballad is huge and filled with every ounce of emotion – something Sia is brilliant at delivering!

This passionate tune is perfection with her emotionally vulnerable vocals, cracking with melancholy.

I feel like this is one of the best starts to a Monday you could ask for – have a great week everyone!

Have you been a fan of Sia for years? Are you a more recent fan? Have you got any more songs by the talented writer which would be perfect for a #MellowMonday? Please share them with us below or on social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Breathe Me’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/breathe-me/id68205534?i=68205553