What a year it’s been for Sunderland based Tom A Smith. Tom celebrated his 18th birthday in year and has totally carved out a coveted ‘one to watch in 2023′ badge, with the release of two incredibly diverse and mature EP’s and a busy touring schedule to make many a hardened musician blush.
Now at the tag end of 2022, there’s a further release of piano based songs of some of his key tracks to date, including a Kate Bush cover to boot.
If that’s not enough Tom for us, he is also working on a covers version of Louis Tomlinson’s LP just for Christmas for fans, and just because he is so talented. No wonder Louis has just followed the lad on Twitter. I predict a support slot gig in 2023. You can ask Tom nicely on his socials for a soundcloud link to this latest informal work.
Although Tom has probably been the artist I’ve written about the most in 2022, these piano versions should not go unremarkable upon either, as they offer yet another slice of versatility from this most talented of men.
Here Tom just ‘taught himself piano’ in a few weeks so he could produce these versions. The same timescale it might take me to teach myself how to cook good roast potatoes or to get the fingers for ‘c’ on a uke ingrained in my brain. Sigh.
My favourite of the latest harvest of piano tunes is also the song that introduced me to Tom A Smith – Wolves. This song is a biting commentary on how our government dumped protecting the vulnerable, particularly during covid. The piano version gives the tune a deeper gravitas.
For those yet to discover Tom, his deep soulful voice sounds more aged than the body that produces it, and the direct and serious message in the song makes you sit up and take notice. This is not an artist to be ignored. Here Wolves becomes a soulful imploring ballad, and Tom’s unusually expressive voice, and those nice little natural crackles and breaks in his vocals shine through. This guy is a one of a kind.
I get excited about a lot of artists, I predict good things for a few of them, but only a fool would pass on a bet on Tom being a household name in a few years time. Just ask Elton.
Tom is knowledgeable enough to know that Kate Bush is much much more than a one song pony, and here he covers Under The Ivy (it was originally the b side of Running Up That Hill back in 1985). This is a beautiful stripped back soulful version. I’m sure Kate would be chuffed to her Christmas socks with this version.
I won’t run through each of the 6 tracks on this gem but it is notable how Tom draws out new aspects to each of his songs here. The lyrics and vocals are brought out more, and the new arrangements give a solemn air to Tom’s rallying against the condition of the world. The atmosphere perhaps reminds me of Nick Drake or Leonard Cohen brought forward to a different age. This is serious.
* the rubbish photos are the authors own from Tom A Smith’s November performance in Huddersfield.