Review Archive

‘Stones’ from Tom Mitchell - atmospheric folk with depth and presence

(February 08, 2015)

There are more vagaries in music than certainties. One reassurance is an album from Tom Mitchell. He uncompromisingly ‘hit the spot’ with his album ‘New World’ and the following EP, ‘Things That I Need Stones- from Tom MitchellTo Undo’. Across both it was increasingly obvious that here is a talent for penning songs with significant musical and lyrical depth. This time around, his latest album ‘Stones’, due for release on 2nd March, utterly fulfils their promise and must carve Mitchell a deserved place in the catalogue of outstanding singer songwriters.

With ‘Stones’, Mitchell again delivers songs positively lush with sweep and depth, each one bringing a presence and sense of panorama to lay out a soundscape you will visit time and again. There’s still that distinctive folky feel but both the intricate musicianship and lyrics are sharper, more insistent and the hooks plentiful - the resultant desire to hit ’replay’ will become a definite preoccupation. Mitchell’s music has a clear engagement driven by the level of ‘contact’ in his songs that gives them an unerring ability to reach out and touch. The opening inspiration of ‘Shadows in the Water’ comes in through softly subtle guitar, mixed-back vocals and that faintly familiar ring of sixties West Coast folk, for all that his music remains rooted in this country's folk. That’s more than evident in the ephemeral edge of ‘Fifty Trees’, which initially makes you feel as though you’re chasing the song before the depths open as Mitchell expands the production through perfectly-placed guitar breaks to enter more progressive realms.

‘Lockdown in Five’ hovers its poignant lyrics across a bold melodious sweep, ‘Aim’ falls into a no less-involving but more reflective feel with stronger vocals and more guitar presence, while once more overtones of a certain summertime echo around ‘St James’s Gate’. And the title track ‘Stones’? Well if you’re captivated by songs that arrive awash with poise and spectacle, driven by echoing guitars and far reaching vocals then this is the one. Why an artist of Tom Mitchell's calibre is not more widely recognised, while the airwaves remained burdened with music that sets marketing above matter, is frankly beyond me.

From a somewhat selfish perspective, the only criticism I can summon is ‘Stones’ only offers six of Mitchell’s involving songs, he could add another half-dozen and listeners would remain rapt. Some while ago I said ‘… the queue for the next album is going to be a long one’ - don’t wait for March, pre-order ‘Stones’ now because the sell-out will be rapid.  

You can find Tom Mitchell, his music and ‘Stones’ here, and I strongly suggest that you do:

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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