Tom Baxter - Feather & Stone

If you were wondering who that talented young man was supporting the new saviour of jazz himself (i.e. Jamie Cullum), then wonder no more. Let me introduce you to Tom Baxter. If that name sounds familiar it may be because you caught him on Later With Jools Holland. His performance on that show was exceptional. Available at last is his debut album "Feather And Stone" which features ten self penned tracks from this highly impressive singer songwriter.

"Under The Thumb" is the sound of a man confident enough in his own abilities to create an ambitious, complex vision with orchestral leanings without pomposity or pretentious over reaching. Baxter is imbedded with the spirit of Jeff Buckley. His influence is clearly evident throughout. Sometimes when musicians add strings to a song it's often as a last minute afterthought and as a result ends up sounding overblown and unnecessary. It takes real skill to achieve and like the Divine Comedy, Tom Baxter is up to the task admirably. The arrangements are a masterstroke and most importantly its a top tune. There are more lush strings and a touch of Coldplay on "The Moon And Me" which incorporates acoustic guitar, piano and drums. Tom's vocal is genuinely emotional and his lyrics has a poetical quality. Tom's songwriting style and scope puts me in mind of Rufus Wainwright, but with a more English sensibility creating an epic expansive mood which is deliciously appealing.

"All Comes True" has a country feel to it and pace of the song is gentle, but welcoming. The lyrics are full of longing and the piano break reminds me very much of Bruce Hornby and The Range. "Don't Let Go" has weird synth noises as he informs us of his most vulnerable thoughts especially when he sings "don't let go, though it's cold to know". The strings add a sombre tone to the unsettling mood which the song evokes. The guitar playing is tremendous with drums that shudder on impact. A dark track fraught with intensity with the song ending with countryside sounds (the calm after the storm if you like)

"Feather And Stone" is one of the best albums i've heard so far this year. Tom Baxter is a naturally gifted songwriter who will hopefully build and keep up this quality for years to come.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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