Just who is Tom The Lion? Well he is a British singer songwriter who has cast one seriously mesmeric embrace with his new album Sleep. Other than that, the Leamington Spa bred, London based artist is pretty much a mystery yet to show itself but musically everything you need to know is in the magnetic adventure which makes his latest release one captivating proposition.
2011 saw the acclaimed release of The Adventures of Tom the Lion, the collecting of two previously limited vinyl-only 10″ double EPs. Without seeking out media and critical attention the release was devoured by fans, selling out with ease and now Tom returns with his debut album, building on the impressive base of the earlier encounters and giving more fuel to those classing the artist alongside the likes of Nick Drake, Mark Hollis, and Thom Yorke. It is a release which smoulders from start to finish with an emotive resonance and melodic beauty, each track an intimate yet sonically epic and expressive spark for the imagination. The album does not ignite as many fires in the passions as maybe wished, though when it does ardour is the only outcome, but Sleep is certainly a persistently and thoroughly absorbing journey for thoughts and emotions inspiring a definite hunger.
The album’s title track opens up the release and soon has the ears and imagination eating out of its hand. As guitar coaxing entwines with a shimmering sonic twang whilst distinctive vocal harmonies seep from the throat of Tom, it is like lying on an aural sea bed watching crystalline light glancing off of and over elegant and expressive melodic colours. Floating with enchanting somnolence over the senses, eclectic hues whispering across the slowly expanding landscape, the song reminds of Lune Palmer and when it explodes into a roar of evocative enterprise of David Byrne. It is a glorious song and an irresistible start to Sleep.
The following Motorcade lays a shadowed beauty on the shoulder of the senses to make a companion but openly different engagement to its predecessor. As with all the songs, it nudges and lures in the listener and their thoughts, though it is also unafraid to expel a more voracious breath at times to crinkle the air and fire up the suasion of the track. Keys and guitar shine brightly as they shimmer, merging reserved caresses with more agitated flames of magnetic invention whilst vocally Tom again draws a potent narrative upon the similarly impacting canvas.
Both Silent Partner and Oil Man keep the striking start to the album in masterful control, even though neither can quite match the previous tracks. The first of the two entices with raw chords and sultry melodies, uniting both in evocative atmospheres over emotion sculpted scenery whilst the second is a haunted and insular soundscape wrapped in warm intrigue. There is a cryptic essence to the song which seduces the imagination whilst once more the vocals manage to sooth and stir up the senses for an appealing incitement. The success of the pair is emulated by Beholden with its classical honed grace and imposing drama, and then the rhythmically enticing November’s Beach. The latter is a gentle yet blazingly warm sunset on the senses with an instinctively gripping dance of adventurous rhythms. Its bait is irresistible, enslaving an already keen appetite with a flavoursome climate of humid sonic enticing and melodic delirium.
Neither Every Single Moment or Winter’s Wool can live up to those before it but each still offers a compelling and lingering presence through smiling guitar enterprise leading to a fiery crescendo and immersive textures of siren-esque and celestial temptation respectively. Lofty heights are soon found again with Our Beloved Past, a stunning slice of folk pop which bounces resourcefully like the offspring of Raglans and The Divine Comedy. From keys to guitar, rhythms to vocals, the song is a poetic fire of passion and contagious invention.
Through the darkly shadowed sky of Ragdoll, the album finds another unexpected pinnacle. Its cloudy emotion and slightly twisted breath is a hypnotic slow walk of angst kissed resonance and melodic exploration which is as compelling as it is startling, though its flow into a more mellow passage loses a little of its early impact.
The album is brought to a close by the catchy bounce and energy of Heal and lastly the intimate emotion of Come To Life, two enjoyable songs which make a fine end to a great release without making a lingering impact individually. Sleep as a whole does though and shows why Tom The Lion is so keenly thought of by so many. The album does not as mentioned stir up a major fire inside and in thoughts but it does trigger a need to know and hear more.
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