Tom Williams has never lacked great pop melodies or uniqueness of voice. His first two albums are the Magna Carta for teenage boys and insular angst but now, on his 4th album ‘All Change’, his themes are broader and the depth of musicality is richer. Does it pay off?
Album opener, ‘Everyone Needs a Home’, strongly suggests that it might have. The sweeping orchestra borders on deranged at times, couple this with his brooding vocals and memories of Radiohead’s expansive pop songs will come to the fore. It’s also, the first if many great jibes at little Englanders.
On several occasions, the genius Ryan Adams form the essence of Williams’ work. ‘What a Shame’ is laced with regret and debauchery (“only whiskey has me sleeping right”) whilst ‘Sometimes’ delves into the worst aspects of Williams’ persona:
“I’m a coward / and you know it / always running from a fight”
‘Get High’ is the finest example of Adams’ soaring melancholy. The beautiful backing vocals juxtaposed with dark cloud of self-doubt is of the utmost quality. What really takes ‘Get High’ to another level are the swooning guitars. Williams uses them to traverse a flawed character to the cliff edge and, like in 'Inception', leaves you shrouded in uncertainty to the outcome.
Williams turns to Bruce Springsteen and Belle & Sebastian’s ‘The Boy With The Arab Strap’ on ‘Higher Place’ to lift the mood. Its combination of escapism and frustration delves further into that losing feeling many of the 48% have been left with:
“All my daydreams upped and ran away / so I guess I’ll think about real life for a change / one day im going to lift us up to a higher place”
‘Sleep Tight Saturday Night’, thankfully, goes further than this polemic. Williams hilariously flips the ‘take back control’ argument to the true downtrodden folk of his home in Hastings, rather than debt free straight white men with a mortgage:
“Have you seen this town lately / it’s been going through some changes / people here have been kept down for ages / we aint never getting out”
History has always proven the poet can achieve far more than social comment. Nevertheless, the social commentary here is smothered such warming pop music vibes, it’s hard to picture this not reaching even those who disagree.
It’s hard to argue that, the depth of song writing sonically has not grown substantially. The quality of Ryan Adams or Bruce Springsteen is not on show often enough to catapult Williams into stardom but, there is enough for a great big shove!