Not many folk had heard of Tom Misch until his latest release, the timeless album “Geography” back in April. I can already tell that in a decade or so, this album will simply be put as a “classic”, as the production, the songwriting, the talent is oozing with goodness out of every pour. Tom is only 23 years old and comes from England’s capital, London. Having skills as a producer as well a songwriter is really like having the world in the palm of your hand. He has the skills to record at any time as he can just do it all by himself and that’s the main thing I like about Tom. He’s signed to a record label, but he records, produces primarily on his own which has turned into 2,000,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, so he must be doing something good.
“Before Paris” is the album opener and it’s simply introduced as a monologue from an interview that Roy Hargrove (jazz trumpeter) did. The song develops into a jazz-funk groove with quite a modern-pop guitar tone to keep it a refreshing feel. The whole production on this track is warming and a lovely start to an album. The monologue seems to be about someone who loves to do what they do as a career or even a hobby. It really mixes the album to make us believer that Tom loves what he does and that’s so humbling to know. The prominent part to me is how the drummer hits the snare repeatedly making it sound so tight and clean.
I’d read numerous descriptions for the next and they’ve been making me laugh so much. “Lost in Paris” makes you feel that it’s simply about a love that Tom lost in Paris but apparently, according to Tom himself on twitter, it’s about a hard drive that he, well, lost in paris. If this is true, it makes the song feel a bit more humorous and we can sympathise in a way because we’ve all lost something before. The amount of times I’ve lost my house keys is off the charts. Unlike this song which is still IN the charts! The melody is easy listening and suited for the warm weather we’re having at the moment in England. The tracks features Goldlink – a Washington DC Rapper. He adds a flavouring which makes the song suited for Rap/R’N’B lovers.
The track “South of the River” is filled with elements of pop, funk and r’n’b music with classical even being a strong influence with the string violins being a crucial part to the song. The vocal melody is memorable and pleasing to the ear. The way that Tom sings the lyrics are rhythmical, creating the catchy funk element. When we reach the solo, the instrument plays a jazz type scale introducing another influence for the song. As a whole, the lyrics are simple and the song subject is simple too, but the production and sound that the song delivers is really lovely. The fade out of the keyboard & guitar is mesmerizing, making the song sound like a dream. It’s diverse and the song compliments different decades because it sounds like a 70’s dance hit, an 80’s roller disco track, 90’s club anthem & a 00’s/10’s “banger” (as our youth say.)
Reminding me of 90’s R’n’B bands such as The Fugees, “Movie” is a mellow, relaxing composition that features spoken word at the beginning from Tom’s sister, Polly Misch. Tom really does have his own style which is so great to hear originality in this day and age. Tom has a very soft, calm voice which really compliments this song perfectly. The low frequencies on all the instruments are truly mesmerizing as it’s had to produce low sounds well into music without it sounding just like noise. What’s so amazing is that you can hear all of the instruments in their own limelight.
“Tick Tock” is filled with laid back vibes which reminds me of Bonobo ever so slightly at the beginning, then it develops into an upbeat, dance track. It’s warm sounding and gives a similar influence of “Make Luv” by Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham. The violins are featured in this track which makes it resemble “South of the River.” It’s always nice to have familiarity on an album of songs that truly stand out. For an instrumental, it really holds your attention. Sometimes we get lost and don’t stick with a song because a lot of use primarily listen to lyrics and vocal phrases, but this song catches you throughout.
De La Soul, the iconic hip hop band are featured on “It Runs Through Me.” It’s quirky and clever how the lyrics “she told me add a bass line” is when the actual bass line of the song begins. This lyric is a hint towards “Add the Bassline” by Jordan Rakei who is one of Tom’s dearest friends and collaborators. This song has been hyped up to be one of the best on the album, probably cause De La Soul are on it, but I feel it’s a bit repetitive and isn’t as interesting as all the other songs so far.
A jazzed up version of the soul hit “Isn’t She Lovely” by the legend Stevie Wonder is dreamy and very lo-fi. It’s layered with guitar parts over each other creating this bright tone. It’s the shortest track on the whole album, but still an important track on the album. Featuring a cover on an original album is really hard sometimes because people have their own expectation of a cover already (from the original.) Tom picked this song that’s covered by a lot of people too, which makes it even harder to compete with, but either way, he pulls it off and it’s a lovely, safe rendition of the track.
“Disco Yes” is a love song that seems like a relationship is going through a rough patch with the hook line being “i STILL love you,” leaves us as the audience thinking, are they together or not? If they’re not, they should be an item again because they’re still longing for one another. I feel the song dragged on a bit too much and should have ended a bit earlier as it feels like it out did it stay. This could be what Tom longed for with this track to make it seem that the relationship did go bad but then the happiness of the song is telling us that there’s still hope for the two lovers. I just feel it should have definitely gotten to the point a bit quicker than it did.
“Man Like You” is another cover. Originally done by Patrick Watson. Tom’s version is more of a Jeff Buckley approach where Jeff would take a cover song and transform it in his own way using his voice and guitar. Tom features ambient violins in the background which creates a spaced out atmosphere. Plus Tom sings this version in a lower register to how Patrick would do it. It’s a really great cover of an even greater song. A must listen on the album for sure.
Loyle Carner who’s a British rapper/spoken word artist features on “Water Baby.” The song deals with how bad things affect us, but if we don’t let it get to us, the grey will turn to sunshine. It’s a positive song but I feel it lacks something. The lyrics, rhythm’s and melodies are great, but I feel dynamically it stays the same all the way through, like a straight line that’s never-ending. I’d definitely like to hear subtle dynamic shifts in this for sure.
As much as I really like Tom’s voice, it always has the same tone in all of the songs on Geography and he uses the same phrases in “You’re on My Mind” too. It’s a true heart-felt ballad which doesn’t really go anywhere. The chord changes are really nice though as well as the main drum beat. As a singer myself, I like to hear singers sing different verses differently as it captures the listeners even further. The guitar solo is very John Mayer-esque which I’m not surprises in the slightest as that’s one of Tom’s biggest musical influences. John Mayer is a sensational songwriter and guitarist who’s very underrated, just like Tom.
Heavily sampled by “So Hard to Find” by Pazazz is basically “Cos I Love You” in a nutshell. There’s not much to say really about this song. It didn’t grab my attention at all and I feel it sounds similar to everything else on the album. It really lacks originality. It’s forced to feel like everything else I should say. I do like how Tom heavily influenced a 70’s disco track and gave it a fresh new light but it’s cheesy and unnatural.
“We’ve Come So Far” is the last track on the album and it literally repeats “we’ve come so far” all the way through which gets annoying after a little while. The rhythm and harmonies make the song appeal more to my ears. Although I feel it’s not the best, it sends a warm, positive message across to the listeners making it a happy finish to a great album.
Favourite Tracks: Before Paris, Lost in Paris, South of the River, Movie, Tick Tock, Isn’t She Lovely, Man Like You