2022 is truly going to be Tom A Smith’s breakthrough year. Not yet 18, and this Sunderland lad has his head firmly screwed on – from what I can see Tom knows exactly what the world is about, what he can give to it, and what he wants from it. Tom is a force to be reckoned with, for sure.
Witness this past couple of weeks where Tom has built upon the politicism of his eye catching debut release single Wolves, a deliciously biting and angry song. It is broadly about how money ultimately beat protecting our vulnerable during the dark days of the pandemic.
This week Tom has shared a banging anthem he wrote a while back about that lying party boy who apparently leads our country. Tom A Smith might well become a continuing thorn in the side of government just as the likes of Elvis Costello, Billy Bragg and that long line of protest singers have done in the past.
Of course, it’s not only about politics but also about versatility. Tom A Smith over the Christmas period spent a couple of hours re-recording Olivia Rodrigo’s entire album Sour just for fun. Just because he can, just because he’s naturally that good. I’ve heard it, and it’s excellent, fun and deliciously interesting.
This past week has seen Tom back down in Brixton to work with ace producer Larry Hibbitt for the tracks of his forthcoming second EP, but Dragonfly transports us to last July, for Tom’s recording session with Hibbitt for his debut EP, which is to be released soon.
Dragonfly is the track that Tom currently uses to close his live set, and of course a total favourite. Tom wrote it a few years ago and the theme is about thinking about your happy place and keeping sight of it.
I asked Tom how it felt to be recorded by someone as well respected and experienced as Larry Hibbitt. Tom explained that he played and arranged almost everything (there’s a drum machine on Dragonfly, which Tom then augmented with live drums overtop).
If you do a little searching you can listen to an older, higher pitched version of the track on- line, which shows just what a talent Tom is, and how all the building blocks of the song were already formed.
I’ve also heard this description about Larry before, which Tom shared; he just makes it sound huge. That’s certainly true for this track.
Dragonfly has Tom’s deep and raw vocal to the fore. To my ear, it features the voice of a leader; Tom always seems desperate to explain his view with a rare urgency, which implores you to hear him out. Haha a young Tom must have been a nightmare in the local sweet shop years ago.
The music behind Tom is just as chopping and strident. It pulses out from the speaker just as blood consistently and vitally pulses through your veins. Dragonfly is a tune that leaves you feeling you have just had fun being bounced about in a wind tunnel.
With the powers invested in my being an international music reviewer (cough, roll with it dear reader), I asked Tom about what seems to be an incredibly versatile music taste. Where better than to ask about his last few Spotify plays:
You’re right I love all sorts.
Last 5 listens were Ride by Joe Unknown which is just massive. Feet by Fat White Family mainly because Alex from the band added some sax on to a song for me this past week; they are unreal so I’m blown away. The Cranberries Ode To My Family because someone mentioned them the other day.
Then there’s Luke Royalty – I do, which is a massive song, I think he’s gonna smash this year (Tom is playing a forthcoming gig with Luke Royalty in Durham’s Old Cinema Launderette on 4th February) and finally Flowered Up – Weekender again because friends were raving about it, I didn’t last the whole 13 mins but its good!
I love how well Sam Fender has been doing but as a rule I like older stuff. Give me The Beatles any day.
As well as the forthcoming Durham gig mentioned above, Tom tells me he has some exciting festival slots this year, and lucky Birmingham will see Tom support M60 with The Motive at the Sunflower Lounge this Sunday (23rd Jan). I wish I was a dragonfly….
* images taken from Tom’s social media, apart from the couple of rubbish blurry ones which I took….