Is Tom Walker “The New” Easy Listening?

The British Breakthrough Act 2019 TOM WALKER came to the forefront of everyone’s emotions with his endearing single “Leave A Light On” earlier this year. The song comes from the album “What a Time To Be Alive.”

Tom’s voice is distinctive, still a bit raw and sincere — it is not yet contaminated by the rock ‘n’ roll industry — and it is this sense of innocence that makes the sounds so evocative.

Leave A Light On” was co-written and produced by the Chertsey-born, Surrey Brit Award winning producer and songwriter Steve Mac who also co-wrote “Shape of You” for Ed Sheeran and has worked productively with Chvrches, Years & Years, and Little Mix in recent months.

Tom Walker What A Time To Be Alive
Tom Walker – This is the new “Easy Listening.”

Is this the new Easy Listening?

During the 1970s, mood music was all about light jazz, soft rock and big band arrangements. The essential elements of easy listening included a kind of discretion that facilitated a non-intrusive song style that would become a highly polished structure — the very essence of softness. Back then, easy listening was designed to make the audience feel relaxed. It made life more agreeable. That’s the effect Tom achieves on his “What a Time To Be Alive.”

The highlights of the album include: “Now You’re Gone (Duet with Zara Larsson)” that has a high-pitched male voice (which compares well with Zara’s lower song style). The rhythmic nature of this song reminds us of the dance-hall rhythms we normally associate with Sean Paul, and the number has an absolutely incredible sonic range, with a special kind of majesty held in each bar.

The quickly drifting chop-chop “Just You and I” is possibly the best composition of the year. If Paloma Faith was a principled and bearded young man who sang with a fake Jamaican accent (you have to keep reminding yourself that Tom’s Glaswegian) this is the song she’d sing.

The lead track, “Angels” is also something hat you might have expect to find on “Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?” It is fluid, almost buttery and very breathable with nuances of soul-jazz. And it is delivered with a voice that floats between contralto and tessitura.

So why is this “Easy Listening” and not, for example, bare-roots blues or indie rock? Well, to be frank, the offerings are, at times, sanguinely repetitive. And the shades can be ho-hum in their pastel colourations. And the production? Well, the production is so highly polished you can see your own face, and that of every other recent singer, in the burnished chromium.

File alonsgide: Jake Bugg, James Bay and Hozier

Words: @neilmach 2019 ©


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