#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…

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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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#Christmas #Playlist – Merry Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas Everyone!

We wanted to wish each and every one of you who has supported Muzik Speaks this year, or those who are just finding out about us, a very Merry Christmas!

We have put together a special playlist with some of our favourite songs and artists in celebration of the festive period. Please follow our playlist on Spotify and share the link with your friends too!

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  1. Matt Terry – When Christmas Comes Around
  2. Justin Bieber & Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You
  3. Ariana Grande – Santa Tell Me
  4. Simple Plan – Christmas Every Day
  5. The Darkness – Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)
  6. Carly Rae Jepsen – Last Christmas
  7. Pentatonix – Hallelujah
  8. Owl City – Humbug
  9. Britney Spears – My Only Wish (This Year)
  10. Yellowcard – Christmas Lights
  11. Patent Pending – Christmas Is Already A Thing
  12. Brenda Lee – Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
  13. Destiny’s Child – 8 Days Of Christmas
  14. Christina Aguilera – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  15. Kylie Minogue – Wonderful Christmastime featuring MIKA
  16. Idina Menzel & Michael Bublé – Baby It’s Cold Outside
  17. Sara Bareilles – Love Is Christmas
  18. Perry Como – It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas
  19. The Jackson 5 – Frosty The Snowman
  20. Sam Smith – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  21. Tom Odell – Spending All My Christmas With You (Next Year)
  22. Fun. – Sleigh Ride
  23. James Corden – The Greatest Gift
  24. East 17 – Stay Another Day
  25. Kelly Clarkson – Underneath The Tree

We hope you enjoy this and please spread the festive cheer by sharing the link with your friends.

Best wishes,

Matt
Muzik Speaks

 

 

#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Johnny Lloyd


   

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I recently caught up with Johnny Lloyd backstage at his first date, as a support, on the Tom Odell tour. We didn’t get long to chat, but we made the most of the time, talking about what he’s been watching and listening to most recently, how he found performing to such a big crowd and of course played ‘Would You Rather…?’

Check out it all out below…

These photos were taken by Elliot McRae.
Go and give him a follow – @EMcraePhoto



Johnny Lloyd‘s releases are all available:

  • To purchase on iTunes – Johnny Lloyd
  • To listen to on Spotify –


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

Muzik Speaks Interviews


#EventSpeaks: Tom Odell @ The Brighton Centre, Brighton – 04/11/16


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On Friday 4th November 2016, Tom Odell came to Brighton to perform at The Brighton Centre with support from indie singer Johnny Lloyd and soulful soundhouse Rag’n’Bone Man.


Johnny Lloyd

Johnny Lloyd was the lead singer of a band called Tribes for 3-4 years but since the band split in 2013, has gone solo. He released his EP, Dreamland, back in June this year and is doing a string of support slots on a variety of tours, to promote it. This was his first night on Tom Odell‘s tour and he was clearly pleased to be there.

He performed all of the songs from his EP, but in particular, ‘Pilgrims stood out for me – it was a point in the set that got the audience moving – it has a very funky groove to it with it’s guitar sounds hooking you in; it’s clear to see why this was released as a single. The band were fantastic too – I particularly liked the addition of a female bassist – her voice harmonised beautifully with Johnny‘s. If you haven’t already, try to catch Johnny Lloyd on one of his upcoming tour dates with The Fratellis.

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Rag’n’Bone Man

Unfortunately I missed a significant amount of Rag’n’Bone Man‘s set as I was off interviewing Johnny Lloyd, however I caught the last 3 songs or so and he was awesome! His voice is so soulful and unique that it offers a certain wisdom and story-like quality, like no other voice I’ve heard. The few songs I did catch were fantastic – they had good beats to them and were made even more interesting with the use of synths/pads, all topped off with Rag’n’Bone Man‘s powerfully melancholic voice. He’s definitely an artist I’ll be keeping an ear out for!

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Tom Odell

Tom Odell began his performance 15 minutes late, but took to the stage, in a single spotlight, to explain that his drummer had dislocated his arm just a few minutes prior, so they were trying to work out who’d replace him. Thankfully, his drum technician, Graham, was able to step in to raucus applause from the audience. For the rest of the show, there were occasional chants for Graham, and Tom kept thanking him for stepping in to save the show.

The concert was fantastic; Tom Odell showed that his voice is incredibly dynamic and powerful, in equal measure and he has the audience in the palm of his hand. Everyone was singing along to every word, whether it was a single or an album track.

His stage design was simple but effective – he had a projected image, at times, of a cheetah on the back of the stage. His selection of band members was interesting too – obviously he had the usual; a guitarist, drummer and bassist, but I loved the addition of a backing singer (who had a stunning voice) and a percussionist – it added a nice depth to the performance.

One thing is clear, he likes to bring a song to an almost-finish before bringing it back to life, for a second round – he did this on several occasions. However, he clearly knows what he wants to do, as he’d often go round and talk to the band members whilst they were playing (presumably to tell them how long to keep looping sections), so he could maximise on crowd interaction and keep them on the edge of their seat for what he’d do next. He was a really brilliant performer though!

Highlights:

  • I loved it when he lept on top of his piano at one point during a powerful instrumental section of a song – it showed his passion for the music.
  • The impressive vocal range he showed off during quieter sections of the songs.
  • His ability to almost end a song, taking it right down to the quietest point, but then bringing it back into a chaotic but intense instrumental, giving it a second round.
  • When Tom came off the front of the stage, up to the front of the audience – great fan interaction!
  • “Graham! Graham! Graham!” – Graham saving the show and doing a sterling job!
  • His piano playing was amazing and the song he dedicated to his nan (for paying for his piano lessons) was beautiful.

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 Setlist

Still Getting Used to Being on My Own
I Know
Wrong Crowd
Concrete
Can’t Pretend
Sparrow
Here I Am
Heal
Constellations
Grow Old With Me
Hold Me
Another Love

Encore
Till I Lost
Somehow
Magnetised


Finally, I want to say a great big thanks to Thom for setting up this review and organising an interview with Johnny Lloyd (coming soon) and to Tom Odell for his awesome performance – what a great event!

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Two4Tunesday: Tom Odell – ‘Magnetised’ & Cheat Codes – ‘Sex’ featuring Kris Kross Amsterdam


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Tom Odell – ‘Magnetised’

Tom Odell first burst onto the scene in 2012 with his debut single, ‘Another Love’ and then further rocketed to fame in 2014 with his song ‘Real Love’, which was featured in the 2014 John Lewis, Christmas advert.

He’s now back with a new album and single, ‘Magnetised’, which sees Odell take on a slightly more mainstream, sound but with a quirky edge to it.

It’s definitely a song which has made me take note of him and I’m looking forward to checking out his new album shortly.


‘Magnetised’ is on iTunes for downloading now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/magnetised/id1095448844?i=1095449102



Cheat Codes – ‘Sex’ featuring Kris Kross Amsterdam

Cheat Codes are an American DJ trio who have teamed up with Kris Kross Amsterdam who are a Dutch DJ trio, to reinterpret Salt-N-Pepa’s 1991 single, ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’.

They have reused the chorus of the song and modernised it, making it a trap track, with elements of R&B.

Some of the lyrics are verging on vulgar, yet this track is too good to ignore and actually the lyrical content is meant to take a pro-sex approach instead of the original’s viewpoint, promoting safe sex.

Whatever the content, the beat is sick and the vibe is sensational!


‘Sex’ can also be downloaded from iTunes now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/sex/id1108435766?i=1108435966


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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