Tom the Lion at Rough Trade East
There’s something special about visiting Rough Trade – it’s the music lovers equivalent of being a kid in a sweet shop. Despite its notoriety as a hub for hip East London types, there is something genuine and down-to-earth in its stained floors and exposed brickwork. It was Rough Trade that first championed Tom the Lion back in 2011, and now he is back to release his debut album, Sleep, with an in-store performance.
It’s not difficult to see how Sleep gained its position as Rough Trade’s album of the month. As he greets the burgeoning audience there is an awkward intrigue to Tom – he seems slightly dishevelled, yet completely precise. It’s a disparity that extends throughout the performance and sets Tom’s style of songwriting apart from the average man-plus-guitar.
Tom the Lion is a master of contrast and uses it to his advantage, creating a bottomless sound where earthy bass and bold drums sit alongside delicate vocal tones and a plinky keyboard. Each song is gently balanced between classic songwriting and experimental edge in a Thom Yorke-esque manner.
It’s difficult not to get drawn into title track Sleep. Opening with a subtle ethereal sound, Tom’s soft storyteller-like vocals entice the audience, before the powerful chorus drops, completely altering the dynamic of the song. Silent Partner is also a strong contender for song of the night; its heavier aggravated guitar suits the stage and Rough Trade’s grungy atmosphere to a tee.
Supposedly 2014 is the year of the male singer-songwriter, and there should definitely be a place reserved among them for Tom the Lion. After such a well-polished launch and intricately crafted album, it must surely be time to move up to a bigger stage.
For further information and future events visit Tom the Lion’s website here.
Watch the video for Sleep here: