By James Bentley
Tom Grennan is a relatively new artist on the music scene. Although his vocals have been featured on tracks by the likes of Bugzy Malone, and Chase & Status, the voice of this young man will have (as of late) remained unfamiliar to many. Despite the release of his debut album ‘Lighting Matches’ which charted at number five in the UK back in 2018; he was yet to make a true impression on the industry.
However, on 12th March, the 25-year-old from Bedfordshire released his sophomore album ‘Evering Road’. Unlike his previous album, 'Evering Road' debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart. Consisting of 14 tracks, and only 46 minutes long, the album takes center stage, and certainly does not shy away. A mixture of indie, singer/songwriter and pop, the album seizes the opportunity to address life’s everyday issues and insecurities, i.e. self-esteem, intoxication, health and most indefinitely - romance. But what makes this album so special is that it uses it’s upbeat melodies, powerful vocals, and ballad like compositions to shed light and breath positivity into these subjects.
Now, an album of this quality could easily be broken down and analyzed track by track. However, as this is an article and not an essay, I can only delve into a selected few.
My first track of choice is also the first track on the album – and this is no coincidence. I am a very strong believer that the first track of an album is one of the most (if not – the most) important tracks on there. ‘If Only’ is a superb opening track, and perhaps one of the most welcoming introductions to an album I have heard for a while. Not only is it composed with power and excitement, but as the young musician revs his vocals like a Lamborghini engine, it certainly grabs your attention and leaves you wanting more.
Furthermore, it sets the tone beautifully for the rest of the album.
Following on from this is ‘Something Better’. One of my fellow peers at here at RNRR referred to the song as a ‘bop’ - a one word description that I am still yet to top in accuracy. It’s bouncy, it’s fun, and truthfully, I am unable to listen to it without ‘bobbing’ or ‘swaying’. However, what makes this song so brilliant is the depth of it. The upbeat tempo conflicts with it’s contents – struggling to move on from someone you still love. The conflict is used to illustrate the artists mental state of confusion as he finds himself unsure of what to do and how to feel. Not only do I feel that this contrast bares resemblance to that of The Smiths, but it also illustrates just how much of a genius Tom Grennan can be as a musician.
My next song of choice is ‘Little Bit of Love’. This is the most recognised and successful song of the album, peaking at number 8 in the UK charts. It is certainly one of the more ‘pop’ like songs on the album, and that is exactly why it stands out. Not only is it extremely catchy, but it also expands further on the content of ‘Something Better’. Between the deep passion, pain and desperation in the vocals, and lyrics such as ‘swimming in the deep end / tryna find my way back to you’, it is evident that you are listening to an individual drowning in their own thoughts. You can hear the fixation outgrowing the desire itself. Both the buildup, and slight lift in tempo on the final chorus I feel represents that tiresome exhaling sigh - the exhaustion of forever circling around your brain and achieving nothing.
My final song of choice is ‘You Matter to Me’ which incidentally is my personal favourite from the selection of tracks. Throughout this article, I have used words such as ‘catchy’ and ‘upbeat’ to illustrate the overall tone of this album. However, ‘You Matter to Me’ is a soft and beautiful ballad that not only places much more emphasis on the young artists singer/songwriter abilities, but also demonstrates just how varied he can be with his musical talents. Place Adele, Sam Smith and Rag ‘n’ Bone Man in a pot, give it a stir and this is the result. Lyrics including ‘Maybe I was chasing something that wasn't there’ paint a sorrowful but unerring portrayal of an individual acknowledging the bitter truth of their own reality. I also feel that it conveys a very important message about acceptance, and learning that the right thing isn’t always necessarily the good thing.
As I stated earlier, an album of this calibre could easily be broken down track by track. With that in mind, I would like to offer out some honorable mentions before I conclude this article. Such tracks include: ‘Amen’, ‘It Hurts’, ‘This is the Place’, ‘Love Has Different Ways to Say Goodbye’, and of course, the mischievous, but down to earth duet with Ella Henderson; the encore of the deluxe edition – ‘Lets Go Home Together’.
Overall, I think it is safe to say that I consider this a fantastic album. It might not be the most original piece of art to enter the charts in the last five years, but it’s still refreshing nonetheless. It’s consistent, yet varied, and has the ability to pack so much into just three quarters of an hour. With lyrics like ‘Jealousy ain't gonna make a man out of you’ ('It Hurts'), I would consider it to be the heart to heart we never knew we needed. A strong four out of five and an album that I can definitely listen to again and again.
If you'd like to find out more about Tom Grennan and keep up to date with his latest releases alongside 'Evering Road', the links to all his socials can be found below via the icons:
By Emma Furrier
Irish singer-songwriter Rory Gillanders returns with a new track ‘Eye of the Hurricane’ set to be released on April 9th as the first single from his upcoming third EP ‘Wilderness’.This folk-rock track follows suit to his signature style, and relates to many issues experienced in the modern world. Drawing inspiration from acts like Bob Dylan and Noel Gallagher, Gillanders’ maintains a modern folk sound with a clear and honest approach. Having grown up facing anxiety, his music chronicles tackling mental health in an unabashed and heartfelt way. ‘Eye Of A Hurricane’ is his first single release following his two EP’s, 'Tomorrow Means Nothin’' (2017) and 'Waiting' (2018), and is perhaps one of his most honest tracks to date.
The track begins with the melodious strumming of acoustic guitar that pays homage to his roots, and his opening lyric, “I want to blast out over the cosmos with you in my arms' creates a lush imagery that sets the tone for the track, as it then builds up in a staggering beat. While the song is an acoustic led track, the tempo quickly escalates with the entrance of a steady drum beat, creating an ever-growing pace that harnesses a deep energy. There is a noted similarity here to Bob Dylan’s ‘Hurricane’ with its foot-stomping beat and heavy layering of sounds, while nodding towards the folk roots of story songs. While its influences are clear, Gillanders still explores his own narrative in songwriting, in a plaintive and meaningful way.
Honing in on his singer-songwriter roots, Gillanders stated of the track, “The song came to me in a dream. I was looking down at a hurricane causing all this destruction but I felt calm. I woke up and thought, there’s gotta be an idea for a song in this. I guess this song is about hope and trying to keep moving forward no matter what obstacles life throws at you”. Applicable to modern days, this track sings of hope and reassurance without hesitance. There are sonically many layers to it, which he approaches full-throttle. Comfortable in its folk-rock style, there is a live sounding quality to the track, full of crisp guitar and pounding drums atop a punchy chorus. There contains a steady buildup of energy in the structure of the song, as well as quality of the performance, reminiscent of the climax of adrenaline experienced during a live show. During these dark days of a gig-less lifestyle, this is a much-welcomed element to the track that brings listeners back into that live setting.
As Gillanders sings “And I’m tryna figure out just where I belong/ This world can drive you insane/ Trying to figure out just where I went wrong/ But I feel like I’m stuck in the eye of a hurricane” the gentleness of that sentiment is blanketed around a rock ‘n’ roll twang and full band sound, with echoing guitar hooks. The track then climaxes with Gillanders bellowing the song title lyrics on repeat, “I feel like I’m stuck in the eye of a hurricane”, accumulating into the likes of an acoustic-rock anthem. The thumping of percussion is met with the welcomed entrance of electric guitar, with harmonica layered atop the persistent sound. It builds up stronger until the track reaches its own climax, paralleling a raging hurricane, and dies down in a similar fashion. The song ends with the roaring of electric guitar halting to a final screech as the drum beat fades into the back, signaling the storm is passing, and then we are met with silence, similar to the quiet after a storm. In this single, Gillanders beautifully constructed his lyrics to flow with the music in a realistic and purposeful way, taking listeners on a journey along with him through the storm he dreamed up.
If you would like to find out more about Rory or keep up to date with his latest releases, including 'Eye of the Hurricane', then the links to all his socials can be found below via the icons: