#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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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Now, Now – Saved


   

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Now, Now are an American indie duo originally from Blaine, Minnesota (USA), now based in Minneapolis. The band now consists of founding members, KC Dalager (vocals/guitar/keyboard) and Brad Hale (drums/backing vocals) after a recent departure from their line-up. To date, they have had two, somewhat heavier albums and this, Saved, will be their third, full-length release. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Now, Now - Saved.jpg

It’s been a decade since their more thrashy, emo-esque debut album, Cars, was released (back when they were called Now, Now Every Children) but since then, Now, Now have clearly been working hard on mastering the art of slick production.

This is an album that successfully merges emotive, thought-provoking lyricism based upon relatable topics, with warm, summery production; it’s credible songwriting with certain mainstream, pop sensibilities.

Saved is a stunning record. It has everything from catchy choruses and atmospheric synths to chugging guitars and heavy beats.

It kicks off with the acoustic-led, summer tune ‘SGL’ (short for Shot-Gun Lover) which would be the perfect road trip track, through the open roads of America. From there, you’ve got the captivating ‘MJ’, which makes reference to Michael Jackson‘s ‘Billie Jean’ topped off with a galloping beat (somewhat similar to MJ‘s ‘A Place With No Name’ from 2014’s Xscape)

Another significant track is ‘Window’, with its shimmering synths and manipulated vocals, that continually ascend. It’s a song about desperation for someone;“Every night I’m at your window, Wonder when you’re gonna let me in.”A truly atmospheric track.

Just listening to this album, puts you in an instantly good mood due to its stunning production and uplifting vibes.

‘Powder’ is a massive tune and a superbly powerful and passionate close to the album; it has a catchy, fun start with delicate guitars and subtle synths but as it goes on, descends into a very interesting and heavy breakdown with gritty synths.

There are certainly a lot of resemblances that can be made across the album too: ‘Can’t Help Myself’ has whispery vocals, somewhat similar to Geowulf; ‘Knowme’ is a house-like track with calm, electronica vibes, with elements of Chicane to it; ‘Set It Free’ makes cheeky reference to “wandering hands” and has a certain something about it that reminds me of a cross between The Cardigans and Sixpence None The Richer; ‘Drive’ has a beachy, Lana Del Rey vibe and ‘Holy Water’ is a song which I find merges MUNA with early Dido (with the use of industrial-like sounds) – it’s beautiful and euphoric. That’s in no way saying that they are copying other artists but perhaps making a nod to them; if anything it just goes to show what an eclectic record they have managed to create, with a little something for everyone.

As far as albums go, this is diverse and interesting with a real excitement about it. Just listening to it, puts you in an instantly good mood due to its stunning production and uplifting vibes. They have managed to craft a sound that is somewhere between airy beach-pop and grungy rock, evoking nostalgia and varying emotions throughout. This is fantastic record that is sure to be the soundtrack to many people’s summers this year.

Rating


‘Saved’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/saved/1365088448


Saved on Spotify

AZ (Official Video)

SGL (Official Video)

Yours (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review; what do you make of this band’s latest album, Saved? 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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#WildCardWednesday: Ben Howard – ‘A Boat To An Island On The Wall’


   

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After 3 years away, Ben Howard is back with  his brand new single, ‘A Boat To An Island On The Wall’, the first song to be taken from his upcoming, third studio album Noonday Dream.

Having scored a Number 1 with his previous record, I Forget Where We Were, back in October 2014, Ben has clearly spent time crafting a song that is diverse from start to finish; it is a 7-minute epic that ascends from an eerie and unassuming start into a somewhat hauntingly grungy climax.

This song will surely affirm Ben Howard as one of the UK’s most unique and gifted artists and undoubtedly create excitement around his upcoming record release on 1st June 2018, on Island Records.

No music video has been released as yet, but we’ll keep you updated if one emerges online.

What are your thoughts of this diverse singer-songwriter? Do you have a #WildCardWednesday track to share with us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or chat to us about it via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘A Boat To An Island On The Wall’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/a-boat-to-an-island-on-the-wall/1364401352?i=1364401811


#WildCardWednesday: YONAKA – ‘Bubblegum’


   

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YONAKA are a fantastic Brighton-based band who consist of Theresa Jarvis (Vocals), George Edwards (Guitar), Alex Crosby (Bass/Keys) and Robert Mason (Drums). The band refer to themselves as ‘Dark Alt Pop with heavy riffs’ and I couldn’t agree more; their latest track, ‘Bubblegum’ fuses electro-pop vibes with grungy guitars and it’s all topped off with Theresa‘s vocals (which I find have similarities to Charli XCX).

The video has just been released and it really depicts just what YONAKA are all about – it’s visually intriguing and oddly artistic; what more can you expect from a Brighton-grown band eh?!

You must check out this wonderful song and accompanying video – it’s well worth it!

What are your thoughts of this up-and-coming band? Have you got a #WildCardWednesday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or chat to us about it via social media, using the #WildCardWednesday hashtag.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Bubblegum’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/bubblegum/1289319076?i=1289319088


#WildCardWednesday: Scott Stapp – ‘The Great Divide’


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Scott Stapp is known for being the lead singer of the American, post-grunge band Creed, but in 2005, he released his debut solo album, ‘The Great Divide’.

This song is the title track of the album and marked the start of his own solo journey, after the 2004 split of Creed.

I like this song a lot because although it has its heavy moments during the choruses, the verses have an almost Irish, folk feel to them, and I think the sound is really interesting.

Do you know this song? Have you heard it before? Are you new to it? What do you think? Please share your #WildCardWednesday choices with us and share this link on your social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘The Great Divide’ is available for download on iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-great-divide/id970370871?i=970370883