The key to a good album is to be both eclectic and cohesive, and paradoxical as it sounds, that’s exactly what Tom George achieves on ‘Postcards’. Opening track ‘Drifter’ has that wonderful, dreamy, jangly quality of the Stone Roses at their most poetic. ‘Postcard From Your Heart’ is similar, showing how perfectly the airy quality of Tom’s voice suits this kind of ethereal pop. If the lyrics occasionally get a little bit blurred or lost, it’s a price worth paying.
‘Womankind’ opens with a neat little bit of word-play, ‘womankind’ becoming ‘woman cruel’, which is an eloquent hint of the bitterness underlying the sweetness of the music. Arguably, the song wants to get angry at some point, but it stays melancholy and that works, in its own way.
It took me a long time to work out what ‘Hey Tree’ reminded me of – a mix of Simon and Garfunkle with Ally Kerr, I think. I found the jumble of guitars a bit distracting on first listen, but the song definitely grew on me. We’re clearly into the ‘psychedelic’ part of Tom’s sound here, too; the next track, ‘Don’t Want Trouble’, is a welcome change of pace, groovy and driven by some fun, interesting percussive work. There’s just a slight lack of punch in the vocals, with the chorus a tiny bit short on aggression.
Perhaps it’s inevitable for a Liverpool singer-songwriter to draw Beatles comparisons, but with the intro to ‘Affection’, Tom is clearly courting those comparisons. The drums in particular brilliantly evoke that crackly, washy sixties cymbal sound, and the guitars are pretty retro, too. It even gets a bit musically raunchy towards the end.
Changing direction again, I really enjoyed the guitar work on the mellow, subdued ‘Your Wild Imagination’. It felt a bit more tightly-bound to the vocals than on earlier tracks, bringing the whole song down to earth and really ramming home the emotional punch.
‘Postcard (Venus Mix feat. Ragz)’ is an odd one. I’m never sure about including ‘remixes’ on an album, and I don’t think this one is going to convince me. It’s very minimal, very ambient, and very much not my thing. However, I can’t fault the musicianship – the vocal work, presumably by Ragz, is compelling, and the solo sounds pretty good. I’d just have liked a little bit more to happen.
‘So Naive’ makes an excellent summary of the album – Britpop guitars, a hint of the sixties in the drums, psychedelic lyrics, vocals drifting in and out of a daydream. It highlights just how well-rounded a package Tom George is, and you won’t want it to end when it does. Final track ‘How Will They Know You’ is no bad thing to follow it, though. Another one that’s hard to place – there are hints of both early Pink Floyd and early U2 – this is probably my favourite track of the album, with a stand-out vocal performance that captures some of the edge that was missing on ‘Womankind’ and ‘Don’t Want Trouble’.
Overall, ‘Postcards’ is varied but consistent, nostalgic but fresh, and very easy on the ear. Lovely work.
Rik Davnall came to Liverpool from Manchester (but his dad was born in Merseyside, so that’s OK) eight years ago as an undergraduate, and no-one has yet managed to get him to leave. He has played sporadically at open mics and student gigs across the city, on piano or guitar, across a wide range of styles including folk fingerstyle, ragtime, pop classics and acoustic rock. Apart from being a musician, he’s also an author and blogger, and about to complete a PhD in philosophy (please don’t ask him what kind of job that will get him).