Album Review – ‘What Did You Want To Be?’, Tom Williams

I’ve been looking forward to Tom Williams’ newest album for months, and it was everything I wanted and more. The older I get and the more I understand about songwriting, the more I appreciate Tom’s music and his influence on me as a writer. If you haven’t read my post all about Tom’s past music and how he mentored me through the first few years of my songwriting, you can give it a read here.

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Recorded at the beginning of last year in the home studio of Tim Rice-Oxley (Kaene), the album runs through a plethora of themes, and is beautifully produced. Tom underwent three ‘twenty song days’ during his collaboration with Tim, and for me personally, this album has emphasised how important it is to write as much as I can. Here are some of my favourite tracks below (but I’ve basically just given you the majority of the album because I couldn’t narrow it down!).

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The album begins with ‘Run Down’, a full-band track with a brilliant chorus. It’s definitely one I would have loved to see live (although every time I listen to it, I feel like Tom’s podcast is about to start playing) – if you can make it to Tom’s next live show at Scala in London on May 16th, you can still get tickets!

‘Rock and Roll’ is hands-down one of my favourites on the album. Running through the pitfalls of life while trying to get up the ladder in the music business, Tom’s story-telling in the first half of the song is reflective of his early career in music, then switches to what he has seen in other people. It opens your eyes to the realities of trying to make it in music, with the truth being that what Tom describes is actually quite a common trajectory.

‘Dawned on Me’ is another favourite of mine, with some really beautiful harmonies in the chorus in particular. It’s a dreamy and thoughtful ballad; a really emotional song, with the band bringing a sympathetic backing to some really honest lyrics.

‘Graveyard’ is an absolute rocker with an amazing band performance, particularly from the drummer. Tom mentioned in his podcast that he had been trying to write the line “there’s a graveyard in my head, where all my dreams are dead” into a song for years, and I completely understand why because I think it’s one of my favourite lyrics on the entire album.

‘Early Morning Rain’, released as a single towards the end of 2018, highlights the struggles of mental health while carrying a brilliantly powerful chorus (and was followed by an amazing music video featuring Chad Taylor):

‘Some Time’ is such a beautiful song. If you’re going through something rough, the song reminds you that it gets better, but the chorus can alternatively be a reminder that all good things come to an end, making the lyrics somewhat sobering. It’s calming, pure, and healing, with a really lovely guitar part which feels like this album’s version of ‘There She Goes Again’ from All Change, which Tom released back in 2017.

The call and response chorus of ‘It’s Dark Now’ is one of the catchiest on the album, and is definitely a big live show tune. The track was released as a single in the lead up to the album release, and I think it encapsulates the general feel of the album perfectly. I think the music video to this one is one of my favourite music videos ever, with Tom getting some of his younger students to give a live review of the track, oblivious to the fact that it’s his song.

‘Crying at the TV’ is a rocking dissonant track with a nightmarish vibe, which, if I’m completely honest, isn’t my usual kind of song, but I love the chorus of this one. Tom mentioned on his podcast episode featuring Tim Rice-Oxley that this one was originally called ‘Skull Crusher’, written the morning after a house party. I think the entire album is amazingly produced, but I’d probably put ‘Crying at the TV’ on the top spot, with its siren-like guitar parts and space echo adding a sense of paranoia to the track.

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You can listen to or buy What Did You Want to Be? here and can grab tickets to Tom Williams’ London show in a few weeks time here!

Thivya x

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Yes, this one is quite a few months old now but I’ve rediscovered it and I have always been in awe of JC Stewart’s energy and songwriting, particularly because he is just my age! He has a really lovely voice and this song’s soaring chorus highlights just that.

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