released Mar 16th, 2010

from the album - Out Of The Walls

YouTube - Out Of The Walls.m4v

from all music

Singer/songwriter Tom McRae credits his upbringing for leading him to a career in music. While growing up in Chelmsford, his parents were vicars in the Church of England and McRae sang in the choir. His mother played guitar and, as a teen, he'd borrow it. When his sisters were listening to Kate Bush and U2, McRae followed and began buying records. He also started to become serious about music. At age 18, he went off to Guild Hall University to study music politics, soon forming bands and writing songs. A chance meeting with sound engineer Roger Bechirian (Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Carlene Carter) led him to a working relationship. He and Bechirian shaped McRae's soft-spoken sound, which later yanked him a deal with Mercury's db Records. Tom McRae's confessional self-titled debut appeared in fall 2001 and earned him comparisons to Nick Drake and Bob Dylan. Critics raved and McRae also a gained Mercury Music Prize nomination the same year. In 2003 Just Like Blood hit shelves and the next year McRae moved to California, where he recorded his third full-length, All Maps Welcome, an album that was released in 2005. Two years later King of Cards, recorded in England, came out, followed in 2010 by Alphabet of Hurricanes.

album review

If Thom Yorke lost the clever bits and became a straightforward, acoustic guitar-strumming troubadour, he might put out something like The Alphabet of Hurricanes. Tom McRae, whose voice and downcast demeanor both bear some similarities to those of Mr. Radiohead, has been honing his craft long enough to have worked out all the kinks by this point, and his fifth album achieves just the right balance of strong, simple melodies and subtle, idiosyncratic production touches. McRae isn't one of those singer/songwriters who feels the need to tell the world "Hey, I can rock just hard as those guys with the Les Pauls and Fender Twins when I put my mind to it," so there are no anomalous breaks in the nocturnal mood of the album; he's a folkie at heart and he knows it, that's part of what makes his music work as well as it does. There are a couple of moments here where he ups the energy level a bit, by either getting into a moderately bluesy groove ("Me & Stetson") or slowly building the dynamics of "Please" to epic size with chanting and drumming from what sounds like it could be a high school marching band. For the most part, though, the songs are spilled out softly in McRae's high, honey-coated voice, and are centered around humble-but-plaintive acoustic guitar and piano patterns. This proves to be just the right mode for a guy whose worldview is rather less than cheery he intones "Your love is a cold, cold place, my dear" on "Summer of John Wayne," and matter of factly observes "I'm walking hand in hand with my own ghost" on "I Still Love You" over a spare ukulele accompaniment while an appropriately spectral sonic shadow hangs overhead. But for as much as he expertly frames his discontent, he never wallows in it, and knowing the difference is one of the things that puts McRae toward the front of the current line of U.K. strum-and-croon types.

Track Listing

1.Still Love You
2.A Is For...
3.Won't Lie
4.Summer Of John Wayne
5.Told My Troubles To The River
6.American Spirit
8.Out Of The Walls
9.Me And Stetson
10.Can't Find You
11.Best Winter
12.Fifteen Miles Downriver