‘..simple piano and string accompaniment allows Tom’s stunning vocal to shine through.’
Similar to my discovery of KUNGS, Tom Grennan is not an entirely new discovery as he featured on a track last year called ‘All Goes Wrong’ with Chase and Status. Now, as I only vaguely remembered the song, I felt the need to have my memory jogged and having re-listened to it (and realising it’s a drum and bass track), I know why I didn’t really take much notice of it. This said, on previewing his EP ‘Something in the Water’ I was in for a real treat.
The EP opens up with the title track, which sets up a pretty chilled out atmosphere through use of multi-tracked palm muted guitar chords before we hear Tom’s first lines. On a first listen, Tom’s voice is, to be honest, a bit of a jolt on the ears as the tone is not one that you would expect to work with this setting, however, through clever production and the layering of melodic and percussive ideas, this is quickly balanced out and makes perfect musical sense. A prime example of this is when we reach the first chorus where having gradually built on the opening patterns, two accented beats signal that something key is about to happen. This moment is also where I found myself realising the almost relaxed – rap nature that Tom’s lyrics have and while this was the first time, it turned out it wasn’t to be the last.
Moving to track 2 ‘Old Songs,’ I again found my ears being jolted but this time by the unexpected lyrics that occur immediately after the folk-like guitar introduction. It’s fair to say that the topics – focused on love and relationships – are not exactly original, but the combination of no-nonsense lyrics and unexpected pauses mid-sentence make you hear it differently every time. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the accompaniment as apart from the backing vocals on the chorus (which create some lovely harmonies) it feels a little too predictable. Thankfully though, the penultimate track takes us to a very different place.
Expecting a relaxed opening, like the previous tracks, it was a welcome surprise to hear the more dramatic introduction in ‘Sweet Hallelujah’. This introduction, although similar, creates a more passionate atmosphere through the use of carefully applied distortion and echo, and unlike the previous tracks, the accompaniment very much works with the lyrics, rather than just being there in the background. Unexpectedly, there is even a sense of story-telling in the music and as weird as it may sound, it is hard not to imagine a couple dancing an Argentine Tango to it. In short, ‘Sweet Hallelujah,’ with its mix of drama and tension, leaves you wondering what happened next.
The final track – as I alluded to earlier – is an acoustic version of the track that first brought Tom to my attention – ‘All Goes Wrong’. This version, unlike the original, is completely captivating and the simple piano and string accompaniment allows Tom’s stunning vocal to shine through. It is heartfelt, reflective and the perfect ending to an album that makes you realise that for Tom, it seems to all be going right.
To find more of Tom’s music and listen to the tracks mentioned visit: https://soundcloud.com/tomgrennanmusic/tracks
PS: If you enjoyed discovering Tom’s music, why not listen to the pre-released track (Praying) from his forthcoming EP Release the Brakes? If it’s anything to go by, there’s likely to be another review in a few weeks.