Five years ago, saw Tom The Lion fast-tracked to critical acclaim and success with the release of double EP album ‘The Adventures of Tom The Lion.’ With his sensual, sensational vocals and unique blend of beach blues and fireside folk, Tom The Lion was set up to have a Ben Howard career in a number of years. But, dissatisfied with his sound, he took a half-decade siesta, before coming back with revived, refreshing new single, ‘Tanks.’
‘Tanks’ opens with a 505 like motive – haunting, orchestral sounding keys and slow-burning vocals. It is an intriguingly buoyant, lilting, sometimes tongue in cheek tune, yet it is contrasted with a dejected hook, “death and destruction on a Thursday” and a sombre attitude. The music video mirrors this idiosyncrasy with its shuddering, washed out cinematography but lively visuals that follow the feet of a dancer through a city, interspersed with a confrontational close up of Tom The Lion. It is a poignant portrait, which leaves you wondering what internal turmoil Tom The Lion has been grappling with during his hiatus.
Melodically, this single grows from Bears Den like sepia-toned melodies to an all-encompassing Radiohead like sensibility towards the end, where a moment of centre stage vocals is proceeded by a soaring instrumental break. Classical, gospel elements in the keys and falsetto harmonies ring true of a Hozier influence, but each of these juxtaposing elements, flawlessly intertwined, mean that Tom the Lion is incomparable to any other artist – although the desire to put him a box is trivially omnipresent.
Artists who blend their own sound, borrowing from different musical sensibilities, deeply personal experiences and their own unique imagination on the score, are hard to pin down. Yet Tom The Lion knocks us off kilter with ‘Tanks,’ and suddenly he makes being unique seem effortless.
Following this single is a series of UK shows and an album, entitled ‘Round Trip.’ The album promises to be as stunning and unpredictable as its first single – in an effort to distance himself from his own emotions, Tom The Lion was inspired by the streets of London, resulting in an album that addresses the universal human experience through personalised revelation. ‘Round Trip’ is due for release later this year and based on this track, those five years were well worth the wait.