#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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#ThrowbackThursday: Lenny Kravitz – ‘Fly Away’


   

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Lenny Kravitz is well-known for his retro vibes and fusion of various genres, from rock to reggae, folk to funk and soul to psychedelic.

Back in 1998, Kravitz released ‘Fly Away’, one of his most successful singles to date, reaching Number 1 in the UK Charts.

The song was in fact the fourth single to be taken from his fifth album, 5, and due to the huge success of it, not only boosted sales of the album but also earned him a Grammy Award in 1999 for Best Male Rock Performance.

The track is incredibly catchy with its funk bass line and gritty vocals – it’s no wonder it rocketed to the top of the charts.

The music video was directed by Paul Hunter (Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and more) and features Kravitz and his band performing in a club, surrounded by a crowd, dancing and getting frisky. It’s a very iconic video for the artist and shows a real passion in his performance…something he definitely pours into his live shows!

What are your thoughts of this wonderfully unique artist? Did you love this track first time around? Do you still love it now? What’s your favourite Lenny Kravitz track? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Fly Away’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/fly-away/723338099?i=723338326


#Two4Tunesday: Katy Perry – ‘Chained To The Rhythm’ feat. Skip Marley & Maroon 5 – ‘Cold’ feat. Future


   

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Katy Perry – ‘Chained To The Rhythm’ featuring Skip Marley

Katy Perry is back! This tune is huge and not as much of a club-like banger as some of her previous singles; it’s quietly catchy. The addition of a verse from Skip Marley adds a certain edge to the track too.

Katy’s changed her image for this album too, sporting a new bleach-blonde look and a heavily pastel-pink theme to the single’s artwork and some of her press shots.

The song has quite a heavy 80s vibe to it yet it seems quite current and timeless all in the same moment. I think this song and upcoming album will see her continue to rise!

The music video is brilliant and the budget for it must have been astronomical. The style of the video is futurism and blends a sort of 1950s vibe with futuristic elements; it’s also very tongue-in-cheek about how tied to technology humanity has become. It’s well worth a watch!


‘Chained To The Rhythm’ is on iTunes for downloading now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/chained-to-the-rhythm-feat-skip-marley/id1203833700?i=1203833818



Maroon 5 – ‘Cold’ featuring Future

I love Maroon 5 – I don’t think they’ve ever released a bad song or album, in my eyes! Every album has been unique and takes the band in a completely different sonic direction. They’re a million miles away from Songs About Jane, but yet they still produce incredibly funky, fun and interesting music that pushes the stereotypical band image and sound to new heights!

This song is so different to all their previous singles with is heavy bass sounds, tropical house/jungle drum patterns and Adam Levigne‘s trademark falsetto vocals weaving throughout; it’s just a masterpiece of production and a thoroughly interesting sound for the band.

Naturally, this seems to be the second single (of which Don’t Wanna Know‘ was the first) to be taken from their upcoming, as-yet-untitled, sixth studio album. It’s set to be a promising release for the band!

The music video is seriously trippy too – check it out below. The end of the video is hilarious too – the perfect end to a perfectly weird video!


‘Cold’ can also be downloaded from iTunes now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/cold-feat-future/id1204595283?i=1204595505


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#ThrowbackThursday: Lily Allen – ‘LDN’


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I can’t believe that Lily Allen‘s single, ‘LDN’, is now a decade old, but it’s still as amazing as ever; it’s timeless!

I remember first hearing this song and being captivated by her lyrical genius; it’s pop but with a humourous, honest twist to it and that’s what makes her stand out. She’s British, edgy, cool and quirky and that’s what makes her so damn epic!

The video for the song was excellent; perfect for the song and the song was brilliant for its originality. I admire Lily Allen greatly and hope for some new material from her soon. Everything she releases is brimming with brilliance so I have no doubt any new releases will be the same.

What are your thoughts of Lily Allen’s ‘LDN’? What was your favourite track on ‘Alright, Still’? Which has been your favourite album of hers? Let us know in a comment below or share your own #ThrowbackThursday choices with us via our social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘LDN’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/ldn/id726141687?i=726141815


#Two4Tunesday: OneRepublic – ‘Wherever I Go’ & Reggie ‘N’ Bollie – ‘New Girl’


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OneRepublic – ‘Wherever I Go’

Last week, OneRepublic made a triumphant return with their new single, ‘Wherever I Go’.

The single marks the upcoming release of their fourth album and sees the band return with their trademark indie-pop sound.

It’s the first new song they’ve released since the mammoth success of their third album, Native. It’s got a great, catchy chorus and a really fantastic ascension as the song progresses. It’s definitely left me excited about their upcoming record!


‘Wherever I Go’ is on iTunes for downloading now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/wherever-i-go/id1112318393?i=1112318813



Reggie ‘N’ Bollie – ‘New Girl’

Reggie ‘N’ Bollie – what a pair! I can’t believe I’m featuring them, as I wasn’t really a fan when the duo were on X Factor, however this song is so damn catchy and uplifting, I can’t help but love it!

Reggie ‘n’ Bollie (formerly known as Menn on Poinnt) are a duo from Ghana, made up of Reggie Zippy and Bollie Babeface.

The pair did really well on the 12th series of X Factor, coming in second place and have subsequently signed to Syco, releasing their debut single, last week.

No official video has been released as of yet, but we’ll keep you updated on when one is released.


‘New Girl’ can also be downloaded from iTunes now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/new-girl-single/id1107626173


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Two4Tunesday: Melissa Steel – ‘You Love Me?’ featuring Wretch 32 & Aquilo – ‘Good Girl’


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Melissa Steel had her first success with debut single, ‘Kisses For Breakfast’, back in 2014 but she has just released her follow-up track, ‘You Love Me?’, featuring Wretch 32. I think what sets Melissa Steel apart from so many others, is her slightly reggae edge and refreshing take on R&B/Pop music. She has an urban quality to her sound and her vocals are uniquely captivating.

The song is produced by none other than Darkchild and the cute sample vocals are very memorable – a strong follow-up single, I must say! Well done Ms. Steel!


You can download ‘You Love Me?’ from iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/you-love-me-feat.-wretch-32/id1003250154


Melissa Steel – ‘You Love Me’ featuring Wretch 32


Aquilo Banner

Aquilo are an Indie/Electro-Pop duo from Lancashire, consisting of Tom Higham and Ben Fletcher.

The pair have released 3 EPs to date, but this song (‘Good Girl’) marks their first proper single release, hinting at an album to come!

The video for the song is like an independent film and suits the song perfectly. The chorus is entrancing with its high-pitched, rapid lyrics and the electronic elements are hypnotic – I can imagine the band doing something amazing with this, when performing it live.

I am a fan of this duo and am very excited to hear what they offer us next.


‘Good Girl’ is available for download from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/good-girl-single/id1036380514


Aquilo – ‘Good Girl’

And so ends this week’s #Two4Tunesday but would you have chosen a different set of songs? Please leave your choices in a comment below or on our Facebook/Twitter.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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