I knew there is a bit of a buzz surrounding 17-year-old Sunderland based Tom A Smith, and so when I discovered he was playing support to Vistas down at my beloved local venue The Parish in Huddersfield I was in. Vistas always give a banging live performance, but for this write up my eyes are on Tom alone (hahaha if that doesn’t sound a bit too creepy).
At present Tom has just one song released; the eminently catchy and atmospheric Wolves. The lyrics provide a plea to think about the vulnerable during these weird times. Tom hits the nail on the head as he describes the feeling of abandonment for some, while the focus is on keeping business going and of course the healthy are desperate to party. Wise thoughts, the idea of getting back to “normal” still feels weird after such a period of inactivity.
Wolves was produced by Larry Hibbitt who has a production credit list as long as your arm, and he often works with heavily backed new artists. Here, the production is nice, light and deft, and the track is a very tasty Fender radio play type. Someone has an interest methinks. It’s not a surprise, as Tom has been playing since pre-teen years and he has caught the eye of quite a number of industry giants over the time. Tom is currently undertaking a whole series of support gigs to a number of big indie names (such as Vistas and The Pale White this week).
Here tonight Tom was completing his second gig with his backing band. I must confess the first song was a little overshadowed by a very prominent drum. Hahaha yeah, old man complains that the drums are too loud – trust me it will happen to you too one day. At least, it gave me time to reflect that the drumming from Frazer Graham (who also is with a Sunderland band I completely rate Plastic Glass) was spot on. I also had time to appreciate the technical guitar work of Dylan Abbott (also on a flit from the Glass), and the bass work of Katie Anderson. I would never guess this was the band’s second live gig with Tom, I thought they had been playing together for months. Pretty damn tight.
With Tom’s performance, I really got a vibe that the guy is so into the moment and the music. I’ve seen an intensity within some folk and Tom’s burns as bright as anyone. He lives and breathes this music, he want to share it, and most importantly it feels like he desperately wants you to get it.
It wasn’t all serious, Tom showcased a Christmas single. Don’t knock it, the Christmas single will always be with us, and I for one want to hear some new ones. Together with the new single, Tom also shared live versions of tracks from his forthcoming EP. I’m in.
I’ve heard some of the descriptions of Tom’s music, but when I closed my eyes to taste it, I rather got a Brit interpretation of Americana indie. Think Augustines or Counting Crows being really heavy and young, think of the North West grunge feel but then also think of a young Billy Bragg desperate to politicise you, and explain the world’s injustices as he is on the stage (note to Billy, it worked totally). There’s a strong lively beat to the sound too, it totally bangs, so this is a current sound; fans of Fender, Yungblud and the like will be very comfortable here, although Tom A Smith will stretch them too. Meanwhile Tom’s voice is totally cool. It’s an imploring deep vocal with a range from Nick Cave slow to Catfish fast and it’s a voice that takes you with him.
I have no doubt that Tom A Smith is going to be climbing the billing over 2022, so do yourself a favour and get and see this man now while he’s sharing his craft in a small audience.
3 Bill To 1
This Christmas Time