#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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#FeelGoodFriday: P!nk – ‘Walk Me Home’

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P!nk is a truly inspirational artist and is always true to herself, which is why she has just become the very worthy winner (and first ever international artist) of this year’s Outstanding Contribution to Music Award at the Brit Awards 2019.

With 7 albums already under her belt and an upcoming UK tour in support of her last album, Beautiful Trauma (2017), it seems a fitting time for her to put out a new song.

‘Walk Me Home’ is the lead single taken from her upcoming eighth album, Hurts 2B Human. It’s a strong, acoustic-led track with a really cutting vocoder vocal that reverberates right through you. It was even penned with previous duetting partner, Nate Ruess as well as Grammy Award-winner, Scott Friedman, so it’s bound to be a big hit!

Although the track is somewhat somber in tone through the verses, it kicks in to a powerful, all-consuming chorus that just elevates. It’s uplifting and puts out big positive vibes – perfect for a #FeelGoodFriday!

No video has been put out yet but when one does, I’m sure it’ll be epic!

Photo Credit 📸 – Sølve Sundsbø

What are your thoughts of this incredible artist’s latest single, Walk Me Home? Do you have a #FeelGoodFriday 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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‘Walk Me Home’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/walk-me-home-single/1453199363


#ThrowbackThursday: Lily Allen – ‘The Fear’

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‘The Fear’ was the lead single taken from Lily Allen‘s second studio album, ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’. It’s incredible to believe but this track was actually UK Number 1 back in 2009…10 years ago! In fact, it stayed at the top of the UK Singles Chart for four consecutive weeks resulting in it being the longest running Number 1 song, in the UK, for 2009.

Despite the glistening, electropop elements to the song that see a barrage of synths weave their way throughout the track, its lyrics are deep, highlighting and poking fun at the problems with consumerism, celebrity lifestyles (and certain well-known tabloids’ obsessions with them) and the postmodern condition of the world.

The song was co-written and produced by monster-hit creator, Greg Kurstin, and saw the starlet adopting a new, ethereal and more mature sound.

The music video is pretty great too, with Lily Allen emerging from a caravan, before returning to reveal the interior of a massive mansion where she is joined by a large group of dancers, eventually performing amongst some giant, brightly-coloured, dancing presents. It’s very dream-like and actually perfectly reflects the tone and topic of the track itself.

It’s an all-round incredible track and easy to see why it reached the Number 1 spot…I just can’t believe it’s already a decade old!

What are your thoughts of this throwback jam by the incredible Lily Allen? Do you have a #ThrowbackThursday 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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‘The Fear’ can be downloaded on iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-fear/731919848?i=731919950


#WildCardWednesday: Jasmine Thompson – ‘Loyal’

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Jasmine Thompson is a London-based singer-songwriter, born to an English father and Chinese mother and says that, “Having one immigrant parent always provides a unique perspective growing up, a sense of one foot in two different worlds.” Maybe that is part of what makes her sound and voice so utterly captivating…or maybe it’s just her undeniable, raw talent.

At just 18 years old, it’s remarkable just how talented she really is, with a voice that sounds soulful beyond her years. And, whilst she might be a new artist to many, she already has a massive following, which was kicked off by her acoustic cover of Chaka Khan‘s ‘Ain’t Nobody’, that was then remixed and re-released by Felix Jaehn in 2015. From there, she has posted and released countless covers and a string of original songs too.

Now, following the ending of a recent relationship, comes her latest single, ‘Loyal’, on which she reunited with songwriter and producer, Eg White. The song actually began life a year prior to the relationship ending, but was written about the trust issues from within it, so this song is bound to resonate with many people. Especially, as despite the way it ended, she still sings, “I will always be loyal babe,” about the person she met at the beginning.

Throughout the track, her voice is ageless, wise and achingly lonely in tone, conveying the emotion to perfection. It’s a progressive track with some crackling, slow jazz-tinted brass from the beginning, sitting on top of a modern beat, before breaking down to a piano-led interlude in the middle, and then breaking out with some epic string sections, to bring the song to a dramatic close. This is an epic tale, told in just under 4 minutes – a true musical masterpiece!

The music video is great too – there’s a very rustic feel to it with it’s interpretive dance elements inside a quirky, captivating timber-frame location, all shot with a home-video style, giving it a very organic feel.

She is definitely going to be one to watch in 2019!

Jasmine’s EP, Colour, will be out 29th March, on Atlantic Records.

Photo Credit 📸 – Kate Bellm

What are your thoughts of this stunning track from the unique singer-songwriter? Got a #WildCardWednesday 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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‘Loyal’ can be downloaded on iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/loyal-single/1451236610


#TunefulTuesday: Lauv & Troye Sivan – ‘i’m so tired…’

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There’s something instantly gripping about Lauv and Troye Sivan‘s recent collaboration, ‘i’m so tired…’, meaning I just can’t get this song out of my head!

Maybe it’s the repetitiveness of the chorus, the brilliantly-used vocal distortion and electronic harmonies, used periodically throughout, or perhaps it’s the combination of a light guitar tied with the electro drum beat and sharp finger clicks that have created something wonderfully unique, resulting in the song living on repeat for me.

One thing’s for certain – this track is already one of my favourite songs of 2019 and the year has barely begun! I’d love to hear a collaboration album from the pair!

The video for the song is pretty cool too – I love how it’s stylised to be like an old 70s/80s camcorder capturing home video-style footage, such as Troye Sivan riding on top of a car, through the neighbourhood. Equally, the lyrics are brilliantly reflected, with Lauv performing amongst various couples, as though he’s not there; a great little storyboarding idea!

What are your thoughts of this incredible collaboration between Lauv and Troye Sivan? Do you have your own #TunefulTuesday 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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‘i’m so tired…’ can be downloaded from iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/im-so-tired/1448700180?i=1448700185


#Review: Avril Lavigne – Head Above Water 🌊

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It’s hard to believe that Avril Lavigne dropped her first single, ‘Complicated’, back in 2002 but since then, the songstress has had 5 studio albums, 23 singles, 27 music videos (including ‘Girlfriend’, which became the “first music video to reach 100 million views on YouTube”) and has even appeared on several television shows and films. Now, six years since her last, self-titled album, 2019 sees the singer-songwriter putting out her sixth studio album, Head Above Water; a personal account of the trials and tribulations she been through over the past few years. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Avril Lavigne - Head Above Water.jpg

Head Above Water is probably Avril Lavigne‘s most mature album to date, seeing a real evolution in her songwriting. Throughout the record, she paints a candid, honest and deeply introspective portrait of a truly tumultuous period in her life.

It all begins with the album’s title track, ‘Head Above Water’, which is in fact the song that kick-started the writing of the whole album. She stated, “One night, I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die. My mom laid with me in bed and held me. I felt like I was drowning. Under my breath, I prayed, ‘God, please help to keep my head above the water.’ In that moment, the song writing of this album began. It was like I tapped into something. It was a very spiritual experience. Lyrics flooded through me from that point on.” In this truly stunning track alone, Avril Lavigne documents her fight with Lyme Disease (as a result of which, she set up The Avril Lavigne Foundation, to raise awareness of the condition – visit http://www.TheAvrilLavigneFoundation.org for more information), showing her strength of character to fight and overcome it.

As if that song wasn’t different enough, ‘Birdie’ demonstrates a diverse instrumental with intricate production where stripped-back moments show off her voice beautifully and a distorted vocal break adds another dimension to the track in which compares herself to a caged bird.

Equally, ‘I Fell In Love With The Devil’ and ‘Tell Me It’s Over’ are both tinted with Lana Del Rey-esque vibes. The first blends both high and low-pitched vocal harmonies to create an ominous tone to the track, perfectly mirroring the theme of a toxic relationship, whilst the latter’s sultry vocals and brass elements in the verses lead into a massive, soulful chorus, making it possibly the most unique song Avril has ever released.

There is a bit of a lull in the uptempo vibes towards the middle-end of the record (but still great tracks!) ‘Souvenir’ is a cute little love song that although a touch juvenile, is actually very endearing, whilst ‘Crush’ is a sparkly-sounding, soulful number.

It might not be her most obviously banging release, but it certainly packs a punch on the emotive side, with such wonderfully poetic lyricism.

‘Bigger Wow’ isn’t the most memorable song though it’s incredibly catchy and unequivocally pop, however I can’t help but feel it’s virtually a carbon copy of Hailee Steinfeld‘s single, ‘Starving’ with Zedd.

That said, although on the whole Head Above Water is quite the far cry from any of her previous releases, there are definite nods to her former sounds. ‘Dumb Blonde’ (featuring none other than Nicki Minaj – which was clearly a last-minute addition to the track, as the review version of the album did not feature her at all) takes a massive leaf out of her 2007 smash hit, ‘Girlfriend’. Additionally, ‘It Was In Me’ has a massive throwback vibes to her 2002 hit, ‘I’m With You’, but nevertheless, it’s amazing and the build up at the end is truly goosebump-inducing!

The album draws to a close with ‘Warrior’, thematically bringing us back full circle to where we began. The lyrics possibly aren’t the most imaginative on the record but they certainly show the strength she has found within herself, to get through some of the toughest years of her life and with that comes an audible gratitude and renewed lease of life.

Whatever you think of Avril Lavigne‘s previous incarnations, you can’t hear this album and deny that it’s a passionate and very personal offering from the star and although there isn’t a completely cohesive style throughout, it’s refreshing to hear her trying something new. The break has done her voice good too – there’s a renewed power and technique behind it and she’s using it in ways she hasn’t much before.

Of course, there are bound to be people that will slate her for moving away from her old sound and those who will criticise her for trying something new, but personally I love and commend this record for being evolutionary and so clearly therapeutic. It might not be her most obviously banging release, but it certainly packs a punch on the emotive side, with such wonderfully poetic lyricism. Now it’s time to return to the top Avril Lavigne – welcome back!

Rating
4-5


‘Head Above Water’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/head-above-water/1442724476


Head Above Water on Spotify

Head Above Water (Official Video)

Tell Me It’s Over (Official Video)

Dumb Blonde featuring Nicki Minaj (Lyric Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Avril’s sixth studio album, Head Above Water? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? 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: Mark Ronson – ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ featuring Miley Cyrus


   

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Mark Ronson is certainly a household name already and having released several collaborative hit tracks this year, the five-time Grammy Award-winning artist and producer now returns with a brand new single of his own, ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ featuring the incredible Miley Cyrus.

The track was co-written by both Ronson and Cyrus, alongside Ilsey Juber, Thomas Brenneck, The Picard Brothers and Conor Rayne Syzmanski, and produced by Ronson, The Picard Brothers and Jamie XX.

The track serves as the first single to be taken from Mark Ronson’s forthcoming studio album, coming in 2019. It’s also his first pop single as a recording artist since the musical phenomenon that was Uptown Funk! However he’s been busy since then, co-writing the Number 1 song, ‘Shallow’ performed by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, featured in Cooper’s directorial debut, A Star Is Born, as well as being a member of supergroup, Silk City (with Diplo), releasing the Top 5 UK Chart hit, ‘Electricity’ featuring Dua Lipa.

The track is already making waves around the world, with video trending highly on YouTube. The high-energy video was filmed in Kiev, Ukraine, directed by WAFLA (We Are From LA) and executive-produced by Romain Gravas (M.I.A, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Jamie XX). It features Miley Cyrus being pursued by police with a tongue-in-cheek approach to the reasons behind it. It’s clearly a big-budget affair and really well shot – definitely worth a watch!

📸 Benoit Debie

What are your thoughts of this duo’s collaboration? Does it top ‘Uptown Funk’? Do you have a #WildCardWednesday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or hit us up via social media, using the hashtag.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/nothing-breaks-like-a-heart-feat-miley-cyrus-single/1444462437