Album of the Week
In-depth on Tom Walker's genre-defying debut, What A Time To Be Alive.
Scottish singer-songwriter and indie-folk-popper Tom Walker’s style is hard to pin down on his highly anticipated debut What a Time to Be Alive.
Following his huge win at this year’s BRIT Awards, taking home the gong for Best British Breakthrough Act, the Manchester-raised soloist is leaving a mark with his gravelly vocals and genre-bending modern pop songs.
At 27, his career highs already include opening for George Ezra and Jake Bugg, being awarded the ASCAP Vanguard Award – won by Dua Lipa last year – and almost single-handedly providing the soundtrack to ITV’s 2018 series of Love Island… and it appears the commercial success of this bearded, inherently likeable star is only just beginning.
Ed Sheeran-esque folk-pop ballad Leave the Light On became the hit of last summer, despite its dark themes. Co-written by Walker and Steve Mac, the song details a friend struggling with mental health issues and addiction while making a promise not to abandon them. The chorus builds to epic proportions and is delivered with a Hozier-like soulfulness. Yet somehow, the emotional backdrop didn’t stop it from becoming the soundtrack to a Sony Bravia TV ad.
Similarly, What a Time to Be Alive is versatile and diverse, veering off in various directions, dipping its melodic-pop toe into hip-hop, reggae, RnB and EDM styles. The tracks feel synonymous with our times, like they were made to soundtrack 2019.
Swedish popstar Zara Larsson duets with Walker on Now You’re Gone, written to fill a stadium, and it might just.
The infectious pop sound of Just You and I showcases Walker’s distinct talent with a triple threat of clever songwriting, a radio friendly hook and his unique gruff vocals. An acoustic version of the track was released back in 2017.
My Way – no, not the one made famous by Frank Sinatra – is a hit Ibiza club remix waiting to happen, while How Can You Sleep at Night is a gut-punching acoustic ballad full of melancholic folk-strings and a catchy chorus.
In May 2017, Walker released the EP Blessings with the eponymous reggae-inspired single by the same name also making an appearance on this record, as well as Walk Alone, his collaboration with drum and bass legends Rudimental which appeared on their third studio album, Toast to Our Differences, in 2018.
What a Time to Be Alive plays like a journey across genres – perfect to go along for the ride.
2. Leave a Light On
3. Not Giving In
4. How Can You Sleep at Night?
5. Now You’re Gone (Ft. Zara Larsson)
6. My Way
8. Cry Out
10. Fade Away
11. Just You and I
12. The Show
13. Walk Alone by Rudimental (Ft. Tom Walker)
See Tom Walker live across the UK in April 2019. [Find tickets]
Listen to What A Time To Be Alive on Spotify: