#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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#MellowMonday: Drake – ‘Don’t Matter To Me’ featuring Michael Jackson


   

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Having recently released his new album, Scorpion, Drake has made a huge impact once again, this time by using an unreleased Michael Jackson sample on track, ‘Don’t Matter To Me’.

The critical reception for the track has been great and it has been hailed as one of the standout songs on the album. It has a distinctly stripped-back, R&B flavour to it with Drake singing rather than rapping and falsetto vocals from MJ on the chorus.

The posthumous vocals from Michael Jackson are taken from part of a unreleased session between Jackson and Canadian singer-songwriter, Paul Anka in 1983.

The track has reached Number 2 in the UK Charts, making it Drake‘s 15th UK Top 10 and Michael Jackson‘s 44th! A remarkable collaboration, in our opinion and it’s great to still hear something new from the King Of Pop!

No music video has been released for this track yet.

What are your thoughts of the unreleased Michael Jackson sample on this track? Is this a good collaboration? Have you got a #MellowMonday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Don’t Matter To Me’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/dont-matter-to-me-feat-michael-jackson/1405365674?i=1405366968


#Review: Panic! At The Disco – Pray For The Wicked 🙏


   

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Panic! At The Disco is an American band notable for its combination of alternative rock, synth-pop and emo lyrics, creating a very unique sound. After the huge success of the band’s debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, back in 2005, they have had a string of albums, continuously kept their sound fresh and built up a very loyal following. Now, in 2018, and with only Brendon Urie in the official line-up, the now-solo project is releasing a sixth studio album, Pray For The Wicked. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Panic At The Disco - Pray For The Wicked

Let’s just start by saying that this album couldn’t be further from their 2005 debut but somehow still manages to have a distinctive Panic! At The Disco sound… mostly due to Brendon‘s instantly recognisable vocals!

Throughout the band’s life, they have had many incarnations, from the cabaret-infused emo-pop of their debut, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out (2005), to their Beatles-inspired, Pretty. Odd (2008) and even their remarkably elaborate 2016 offering, Death Of A Bachelor. Well, Pray For The Wicked is no different…it’s another eccentric overhaul of the act and with that, brings a new and exciting sound.

It all opens with the show-stopper, ‘(Fuck A) Silver Lining’; an all-out, overly-extravagant anthem that oozes an air of success about the guy. The production is top-notch and unapologetic about its use of heavy drum fills and lavish symphony instrumentation. I particularly love the use of the one-off beep where a “fuck” should be – a great little production addition.

This is a theatrical record that doesn’t hold back in any way, shape or form!

As with any Panic! album, there is a great deal of sass behind the lyrics but this record also serves as an honest reflection on certain aspects of his life; his religious upbringing coupled with his rise to fame but rather than focusing on him living the high-life (as was the case on 2016’s Death Of A Bachelor), delves further into the journey to get there. This is a theatrical record that doesn’t hold back in any way, shape or form! It could easily be the soundtrack to a film like The Greatest Showman or feature on Broadway.

Some of key tracks to listen to on this record include, the quietly catchy, ‘Hey Look Ma, I Made It’; the pop-infused ‘High Hopes’ which you can’t help but sing at full pelt; the aptly-named ‘Dancing’s Not A Crime’ – which is a bloody good thing, as you’re unable to hear this without busting out some moves; and the beautifully heartfelt ‘Dying In LA’.

There is a real amalgamation of sounds on this album, from the superbly-integrated brass sections throughout (which add a certain class and almost seem to flaunt the budget that must have been spent making it), to the urban flourishes, such as gritty vinyl sounds, ballsy trap beats and even hip hop-tinted, high-pitched vocal samples. There’s no escaping the fact that Brendon sounds like he had a friggin’ great time making this record and at the same time, was not afraid to push some boundaries.

One thing’s for sure; fans of label-mates, Fall Out Boy‘s, newer sound, as well as die-hard Panic! fans, will undoubtedly love this record…but I have a feeling that with this new direction, he might well be picking up a whole new army of fans too! There are moments here and there that I could give or take, but on the whole, this is an outstanding, current and contemporary album that I would just LOVE to see performed live!

Rating


‘Pray For The Wicked’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/pray-for-the-wicked/1361152002


Pray For The Wicked on Spotify

Hey Look Ma, I Made It (Official Video)

Say Amen (Saturday Night) (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this band’s sixth album? Are you a fan? 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:

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Two4Tunesday: Dappy – ‘Oh My’ featuring Ay Em & OneRepublic – ‘Start Again’ featuring Logic


   

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Dappy – ‘Oh My’ featuring Ay Em

Dappy is finally back with the epic new tune, ‘Oh My’ featuring Ay Em. The track has a distinct afrobeat vibe to it.

The tune is less obviously catchy than some of his previous hits, but it’s still a superb track; a real urban, summer song! Hopefully this will signal the upcoming release of his second album, tentatively titled Miracles.

The music video is based in London and sees Dappy and Ay Em performing on the streets, with some quirky animations weaving their way throughout.


‘Oh My’ is on iTunes for downloading now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/oh-my-feat-ay-em-single/1380654873



OneRepublic – ‘Start Again’ featuring Logic

Take from the soundtrack to the second season of Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, Colorado pop rock back, OneRepublic, have teamed up with American rapper, Logic, to create an incredibly fitting track.

The band’s latest single features Ryan Tedder‘s stunning and passionate vocals, on top of a thumping, almost empowering beat, accompanied by a verse about suicide, by mental health advocate, Logic. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the latest series of the mysterious teen drama.

OneRepublic have released a string of new singles now, but no album has been announced…hopefully these are all signs of one to come!

No music video has been released, as yet, but the audio video can be seen below. If one is released, we’ll be sure to keep you updated.


‘Start Again’ can also be downloaded from iTunes now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/start-again-feat-logic/1381914023?i=1381916994


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#MellowMonday: Post Malone – ‘Psycho’ featuring Ty Dolla $ign


   

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Post Malone burst onto the UK music scene back in 2017, with his massive, Number 1 hit single, ‘rockstar’. Now, 2018 has seen the release of his second album, beerbongs & bentleys, the third single from which is this, ‘Psycho’, featuring guest vocals from Ty Dolla $ign.

Whilst this song hasn’t quite replicated the success of the album’s lead single, ‘Psycho’ is a fantastic track, which peaked at Number 4 in the UK charts.

Lyrically, the song refers to Malone‘s lifestyle and addresses the theme of trust issues that can arise out of fame; it’s a very personal track. This sits on top of a laidback trap beat with a simplistic, yet seriously catchy melody. It’s a subtle yet powerful song.

The music video is pretty cool too – flames, snow, tanks, deserts…it’s a big-budget, rather epic affair.

What are your thoughts of this hip hop artist? What’s your favourite song of his? Do you have a #MellowMonday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Psycho’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/psycho-feat-ty-dolla-%24ign/1373516902?i=1373517312


#Two4Tunesday: Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey – ‘The Middle’ & Lil Dicky – ‘Freaky Friday’ featuring Chris Brown


   

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Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey – ‘The Middle’

Zedd‘s latest track, ‘The Middle’ features the American electronic music duo, Grey (aka brothers Kyle Trewarth and Michael Trewartha) and vocals by American country singer, Maren Morris.

This track may well have come out at the start of 2018 but 10 weeks later, it’s still at Number 10 in the UK charts, following the success of 2017’s Stay with Alessia Cara, however this track performed even better than that.

It’s a fun, uplifting track which has a very similar feel to ‘Stay’ with it’s combination of raw, powerful and digitised/vocoder vocals, atop a blend of 90s pop sensibilities and modern EDM vibes, making for a very distinctive sound.

The video is great fun too, with it’s stunning set and extravagant use of visual lighting. All-round this is just a fantastic piece of modern pop that will undoubtedly get stuck in everyone’s head; a true favourite of mine right now!


‘The Middle’ is on iTunes for downloading now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-middle/1336771022?i=1336771388



Lil Dicky – ‘Freaky Friday’ featuring Chris Brown

The second track this week is Lil Dicky‘s Number 1, smash hit, ‘Freaky Friday’, featuring guest vocals from Chris Brown.

The track itself is a combination of  hip hop, pop and comedy (think similar to The Lonely Island), centring on the film(s) of the same name and continually references Chris Brown himself, throughout.

Whilst this track is intentionally comedic and works hilariously with its accompanying music video, there’s no doubt about it that this is one heck of a catchy tune too; it’s easy to see how it’s managed to top the UK Charts!

The music video itself parodies the 2003 film Freaky Friday (starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan) and features cameos from Jimmy TatroEd SheeranDJ Khaled and Kendall Jenner. It’s a must-watch video but also, I defy anyone not to end up singing along to this earworm of a track!


‘Freaky Friday’ can also be downloaded from iTunes now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/freaky-friday-feat-chris-brown/1351005381?i=1351005400


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#WildCardWednesday: PAULi – ‘WAITING (Getting On This Train)’


   

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Having seen PAULi support Rae Morris at Concorde 2 recently (review here)…I have been utterly obsessed! This is an artist who delivers a live performance which is both exciting and captivating; he has crafted something truly unique!

‘WAITING (Getting On This Train)’ is an intense blend of London’s urban music scene, with chaotic dance elements and a certain quality to his voice that is somewhat reminiscent of something Prince would have done, in his more recent years.

PAULi is an artist that has worked hard to produce a complete package; artistic music videos, quirky single/album artwork and a unique genre-blending sound. Unfortunately, no music video exists for this track but if you ever get the chance to see him live, there’s something in the energy of this song that is just astounding!

This is most definitely an artist to watch out for; I’m predicting big things for him!

What are your thoughts of this incredibly unique artist? Have you got a #WildCardWednesday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or hit us up via our socials.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘WAITING (Getting On This Train)’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/waiting-getting-on-this-train/1180156800?i=1180157170