Richard Brabin admires the stripped-back honesty of Tom Grennan
In a world of increasingly convoluted and conceptual ways of creating music, Tom Grennan is something of a traditional.
His folk ethos of songs with strong narratives, simplistic chord patterns and large choruses has a charming, nostalgic feel to it, allowing the music to stand on its own two feet without the aid of glitzy post production and unnecessary string quartet arrangements.
His soulful, honest approach to songwriting has certainly caught the imagination of a variety of music lovers, a sell out show at The Cellar proving his huge demand at present. As of yet, only the odd EP has surfaced but we can be sure that a full length album is around the corner, such is the abundance of songs Grennan has at his disposal.
There is certainly a lot to be commended in plucky young Grennan, taking to the stage with no drummer or anything other than acoustic musicians, and he displays the uncanny knack of being able to connect with his audience, allowing them to be a tangible and indispensable part of his performance. All too often we see an invisible line drawn between the musician and their fan base, an alienation that Grennan overcomes early on by establishing a solid and palpable relationship which resonates throughout the performance. The sincerity of lyrics and affability of character are a real pleasure and his work has a heartfelt vulnerability to it, Grennan allowing us access to his world, his thought process and his moral code.
Although the simplicity of Grennan’s work is to be admired, at times it does feel overly raw, with a newcomer’s clumsiness. At one stage Grennan announces “I wrote all these songs in my bedroom” and that hits the nail on the head as regards the overall feel of the evening – a little too much like songs overheard on the landing of a house containing an adolescent boy or an open mic night.
However, there is huge potential and surely a lot to come from Grennan, still an artist somewhat in his infancy, and it will be interesting to see just what trajectory his career will take. However at present he is very much a work in progress and needs time and work to turn raw talent into consummate craftsmanship.
RICHARD BRABIN 3/5