With the release of their second album imminent (tomorrow- 23/4/2012- for those reading this in the future…) I thought this would be a good time to do a write up on Tom Williams And The Boat’s second album.
Being as I was a ‘pledger’ in the build up and making of the release (read about it here), I received the album in digital format 6 weeks before the realease date. I have, therefore, had plenty of time to listen to and consume the album.
The digital release just happened to coincide with a weeks holiday for me, so I had the added bonus of being able to download and listen to the album immediately. Being a pledger, I had also already heard two of the tracks before the albums release- the first digital single ‘My Bones’ and the first single proper ”Teenage Blood’.
The album kicks off with ‘Teenage Blood’, so no surprises for me here, it’s a real stomper, with a good old sing-a-long chorus- one of many hooks on this album that would, and indeed still do, appear as ‘ear worms’ for me. I have also just received the 7” of ‘Teenage Blood’- on Blood Red vinyl (the choice of ‘see-through’ or ‘solid’ red being put to the vote of fans via an impromptu Facebook poll- further evidence of the interactive nature of the band. Solid won, just.)
‘Too Young’ has a great little chorus, which I find myself singing “I think we’re too young, to really know whats’s going on’- ridiculous-I’m 40!(but still don’t know what’s going on…)
Next up, ‘Little Bit In Me’, is a sibling from first album ‘Too Slow’, is a real gem, great lyrics, showing Tom’s knack of mixing comedy with pretty dark material, it’s a real winner- the line ‘showing yellow cards to rapists and thieves’, about his sister refereeing on a Sunday is pure poetry, but clearly shows the toughness of the women in his (the character Tom is portraying) family (his gran kills her husband, and his Mum blew up a school..).
‘Trouble With Truth’ is a slow burner of a track- it builds and builds, is pretty dark and the albums feel of that of a break up album really starts to hit home. I wont expand too much- this is a track to listen to, absorb, and make it personal to you the listener- just one of many reasons why you NEED this album.
First single ‘My Bones’ is up next- this has a great little piano motif running through that I really like, it’s beautifully simple, and effective. There is also something dark about loving someone from the marrow of their bones, I suppose it’s that the heart is more traditional and bones usually represent death- marrow is pretty darn important though!
‘Neckbrace (Big Wave)’ is a track name that LOOKS good. Here the protagonist is dumped in the most 21st Century of ways- ‘By Text’, and the follow up line of “…put my belly on the train line”, is a feeling I’m sure we can all relate to. There is a recurrence of ‘Gut’ feelings and reactions throughout the album, as this is where love-sadness is mostly felt- I guess the heart image is more pleasurable than that of a stomach…
‘Like You’ is a potential single, very strong melody and lyrics (“there’s a black light keeps shining reminding that god knows how I miss her”- brilliant.) and a great chorus. A swaying, sing-a-long live favourite in the making.
‘There’s A Stranger’ is another of Too Slow’s relations, just Tom and Acoustic Guitar, reminiscent of ‘Denmark” and is beautifully bleak. As too is the following ‘Summer Drive’, set at a brooding pace, the band are back, and the track, to me, is the protagonist’s summer drives of old with his ex now take him, alone, to the same remote place- but this time suicide is on his mind…
The album finishes with ‘Emily’, which starts with just Tom and acoustic with the band entering halfway through. It’s a lovely little number and an excellent way to end the album.
Now, I love ‘Too Slow’, their first album, but I’d have to say that this is a better, more rounded album. The reoccurring themes of Black, Blood, Bone and Darkness make this a very visceral affair, it maybe a break-up album, but it also says a lot about love. I’ve read the band pigeonholed as ‘Alt Folk’, with various references pointing over the pond, I’d say that where the band’s sound certainly hints toward that direction, the subject matter is very British, and Geri’s violin reminds me of New Model Army’s ‘Impurity’ period (that’s two NMA references for this band- the third would have to be Tom’s excellent story telling, he uses fewer words than NMA’s Justin Sullivan, but the feel and the effect are pretty similar).
10 tracks at just under 40 mins is a perfect length- again the view of the pledgers was sought over album length and quantity of tracks.
As these are my interpretations, I can only encourage you to go out and get the album yourselves, it truly is a masterpiece- and the cover is a classic.