For too many years the art of writing pop songs has been lost, becoming a process of religious adherence to formulaic rules. Songs written to sell numbers first and foremost, singers with tricks and key changes to the fore and all performed in a radio friendly guaranteed air play non-threatening style. Lyrically lazy and cliched, artificially over charged emotionally; what one of my fellow music fans describes as perfectly but violently bland.
That’s not to say there isn’t songwriters and performers who don’t buck the trend. Bands like Keane or Starsailor led the way recording songs and albums that sit slightly on the outside, creating work that links the world of pop with more advanced and complex music. And in their wake recent years have seen an increase in individualistic songwriters who’ve found success, almost in spite of their styles; The Passenger, Paloma Faith, George Ezra are all acts that have learnt their craft and taken pop music in a new fresh direction.
Add to that list London born Tom Speight whose debut long player, Collide, has hit the shelves and streaming services. This album comes after many years honing his abilities, working with the likes of Turin Brakes, and recording successful EP’s; work that is apparent in the polished and exemplary nature of this collection of 13 beautiful songs. Striking you first is the purity of Speight’s voice. Never forced, there is an ease to his tone that is deceptive in it’s complexity; there are no need to employ tricks to invoke emotion here with Speight’s lyrics simply and cleverly presented. Add to this the harmonies found with Lydia Clowes that make this album of piece of sublime gorgeousness. With interesting melodies adding to the well textured mellifluousness of this album you’d be forgiven for thinking Speight was a well established artist releasing his seventh or eighth album, not one still serving an apprenticeship of kind.
Collide is an album that does hark back to days of old, when writing pop songs went hand in hand with creating proper albums. Days when acts like Elton John, Joe Jackson (whose influence I can hear strongly on a couple of tracks) or Ian Dury could be found, equally at home, on Top of the Pops or The Old Grey Whistle Test. Songs that would attract the young and lead them, gently persuading perhaps, into a world that might include Leonard Cohen or Nick Drake. An album that serves as much as an education in what good music should be and a pathway to a life enriched by the myriad influences that Speight was so obviously immersed in. It’s an album that music fans of any age, any genre can find common ground in. An album to be enjoyed, cherished and shared. Collide is an album that could be an instant classic, an album that should ensure Tom Speight carries on the spirit of individuality in song writing. Collide is one of 2019’s must hear releases and will be one of the sounds of the year.
To order Collide visit https://www.musicglue.com/tom-speight